HONK! Festival in Boston


Last weekend I inadvertently ran into the HONK! Festival not once, but twice. The first occasion was in Davis Square on Saturday afternoon on my way to a friend’s place, and I was entertained by the raucous, mostly-brass-and-percussion music and colorful characters with their intentionally playful costumes but didn’t have time to stop and watch. Then on Sunday afternoon in my typical Sunday fashion I was headed out for lunch/brunch, in Harvard Square as it happens, and was met with the annual OktoberFest and the HONK! Festival, this time parading through the square, their route on both sides full of stalls of local vendors selling the usual knickknacks for women and a wide variety of hot ethnic food.

There are several things I’ve learned since then, once I was able to get my hands on an internet connection. One is that this is actually the third annual HONK! Festival, and also apparently “honking” is a fairly new trend. According to the HONK! Festival website:

    Across the country and around the world, a new type of street band is emerging …

    First and foremost, they honk their horns – or beat their drums, or wave their flags – to enliven and embolden their audience. Members vary widely in age, class, ethnicity and background, and although they often wear some kind of uniform, there is also always an emphasis on individuality and a “DIY” (do-it-yourself) sensibility to their instrumentation and attire. These bands play music that is by, for, and of “the people.” …

    Just as important, they honk their horns because it’s the best way they know to protest a world of violence and oppression.

At the parade the political side of the groups took a back seat to the music and the spectacle, but the whole concept is interesting, and apparently the groups present were from different parts of the country as well as other countries.

Here’s a bit more info:
– Harvard Square has its own website. Who knew? The info on Oktoberfest 2008 can be found here.
Boston Globe preview

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