A Look Back: What a Load of Craft 8 – 12/10/11

Another Christmas has come and gone and we’re still enjoying the newness of the gifts we received…and some of those gifts likely came from the spectacular artists of What a Load of Craft 8. (If you were really, really good, Santa got ALL your gifts from WALOC artists!)

And there were plenty artists from which to choose. This year’s event held a record number of vendors, forty in total, with many vendors doubling up and sharing  spaces. I can also attest that there was a steady stream of shoppers throughout the day. From where I was sitting, it seemed like a solid wall of people browsing all day. The sunshine we were gifted was a great incentive for people to get up and out of the house and go shopping.

There were treats to be had all day from both Red Avocado and Wake Up Iowa City who kept all of us from being famished and under-caffeinated. I’m not sure if the caffeine was a good or bad thing for those who participated in the speed knitting and crocheting competitions….but in the end, the pros can knit fabulously even with the shakes.

Santa stopped in to chat with the kiddos who took a break from the cardboard Gingerbread city building just long enough to tell him what they wanted to find under the Christmas tree. It’s a good thing they took that break, too, because that itty bitty city almost overtook the stage at one point.

The stage was reclaimed by the lovely Ames-based band, Pennyhawk. Lead singer Kate Kennedy crooned for us, proving that not all holiday shopping needs to be scored by some light jazz version of Deck the Halls.

The crowning glory of each WALOC is clearly the Craft Death Match. This year was a splendid spectacle with local punk favorites Super Sonic Piss creating the soundtrack for what will be eternally known as the Superest “Super Sonic Pissmass” ever. Competitors in this year’s Death Match had quite the challenge with a marathon of four matches to complete instead of the traditional single matches. Gift wrapping a skate-clad Old Capitol City Roller Girl is much harder than it sounds, and harder still is capturing the glory of SSP in a Crayola marker portrait. If all that didn’t sound exhausting enough, then Deathmatchers were responsible for creating glorious Christmas decor with speedily chewed gum and then icing festive Grim Reapers with a strobe light blasting them in the face. I’ve never seen so much black icing in my life. I’m sure that Santa himself couldn’t have been more proud than I was at this holiday cheer.

This was the third year that I had the pleasure of spending the whole day in the What a Load of Craft village and I am so proud to be a small part of the event. I am in grand company with all the other folks that spend weeks, months preparing for this. All the hard work shines through and everyone should be very proud of the contributions they’ve made. That includes all the shoppers who made the conscious decision to support local artists and their businesses, and keeping the money out of the hands of large retailers. It all boils down to community.

And last, but certainly not least, I give mad props to the godesses of WALOC, Grace Locke Ward, Susan Junis, Courtney Widen, and Ramona Muse. I hope I didn’t forget anyone because they really do deserve the praise and recognition for taking this fair to this level. I will spend the next 11 months in eager anticipation of What a Load of Craft NINE!!

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