Pulse: Crafts and Crashes

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Midway rides, "As Seen On TV" product huckster booths and heart-stopping carnival food are some of the most visible symbols of the Ohio State Fair. But when you peel away the deep-fried batter, the core of the event is a 159-year-old celebration of Ohio's industry, natural landscape and individual talents.

While farm-raised animals and food have always been central features inside of the Expo Center's many buildings, so have artisan traditions - from flower arranging to leatherwork to quilt-making, usually presented by long-established guilds.

"You just have to look past the ShamWow tents," said Olivera Bratich of Columbus Crafty Cotillion and Wholly Craft!

In that same spirit, the fair is opening its gates wide to a younger and more urban audience this year when the Columbus Crafty Cotillion Handmade Expo sets up shop from 12-7 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 9. That same day, the Ohio Roller Girls will appear in an Ohio Roller Derby at the Show Place Pavilion, making it a day of "Crafts and Crashes."

"In a sense, we're sort of a guild," said Bratich of the Crafty Cotillion. "At heart, our values are the same - we value things that are handmade, that involve creativity and that aren't mass-produced."

More than 30 independent craft vendors will set up at the Expo Center's Family Fun Pavilion (located between the Cox Fine Arts Center and the giant yellow slide), with a live soundtrack of performances by Couch Forts, Dottie & Clyde, Slim White and the Averys, and the Habeeba Belly Dancers.

In keeping with the event's Buckeye pride theme, there will be several Ohio-related items, like Ohio Shrinky Dink earrings from What the Rock!? and "Ohio Loves Me" onesies by Mr. Pickles. Other offerings include stationery and greeting cards by Poshta Design, the grenade-shaped offerings of Stinky Bomb Soap, fine works by ceramic artist Cynthia Vardhan and crocheted mustaches from Wholly Craft!

While hosting the cotillion and Roller Girls might be a new direction for the fair, indie craft consumers are no strangers to the wonders of live chainsaw art demonstrations and the skyride.

"A lot of the folks who do go to Crafty Cotillion and derby bouts also go to the fair. We're just trying to get the word out that this is the day to go," said Bratich. "At the very least, it's going to expose what we're doing to a much broader audience."

"Crafts and Crashes"

When: Starts noon Saturday, Aug. 9

Where: Ohio Expo Center, Campus

Web: cbuscraftycotillion.blogspot.com