Forget about the salt-box cornhole games. No chicken wing-eating contest, either. And sorry, you won’t hear all the indie bands.

The annual offbeat Hampdenfest street festival, scheduled for next month, has been canceled. Organizers broke the news online Tuesday, saying city officials denied their event permit.

Organizer Benn Ray blamed the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts for the mess in planning a return of Artscape and leaving smaller festivals, such as Hampdenfest, in the lurch.

“Unfortunately, Baltimore City said they don’t have the resources to pull off Artscape and other events like ours,” organizers wrote online.

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Baltimore’s Artscape, billed as the the largest free outdoor arts festival in the country, hasn’t happened since 2019. It’s usually in July, but BOPA moved the start of the arts festival to Sept. 13. Then the office pushed Artscape back to Sept. 22-24, the same weekend as Hampdenfest.

“We figured, if Artscape did happen, maybe we could still pull off a smaller, more stripped down version of Hampdenfest,” organizers wrote online.

Instead, their permit application was denied, the organizers wrote. Reached by phone Tuesday afternoon, Ray had sharp words for BOPA.

“Their mess has created this problem for us,” he said. “The fact that they didn’t bother to communicate or consult with any other neighborhood festivals speaks to the hubris of that organization.”

Todd Yuhanick, Interim CEO of BOPA, responded through a spokesperson.

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“We offer our full support to the organizers and stand ready to assist in any and every way when HampdenFest is eventually rescheduled. In the meantime, we invite all from this vibrant and iconic neighborhood to join us at Artscape,” Yuhanick said.

Hampdenfest draws between 15,000 and 20,000 people a year for the local bands, neighborhood vendors and crowd favorites like the chicken wing and pie-eating contests, said Ray, the co-owner of Atomic Books. The popular toilet bowl races were retired to the dismay of longtime attendees.

“We were disappointed to hear the news of Hampdenfest’s decision,” wrote Bryan Doherty, the mayor’s spokesman, in an email. “As was relayed to them through the permitting office at the time, we remain eager to work with the organizers to see if there is a viable path forward.”

Ray said they tried to find another weekend for Hampdenfest, but the calendar was booked with holidays and other city events.

“There are problems on every weekend,” he said. “We’ve gone through every different variation.”

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Still, Ray was hopeful Hampdenfest will return next year.

“It largely depends if Artscape is going to be in September,” he said. “That poses an existential threat for the festival.”

A previous version of this story misstated a reason the toilet bowl races were retired. Also, BOPA asked that a quote provided by a spokeswoman Tuesday afternoon be attributed to interim CEO Todd Yuhanick. This story has been updated.

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