One good eye

Cyclops Festival returns for fourth DIY year

By Tim Anderl

Photo: Cyclops Festival, the handmade art and apparel event, will take place on Sept. 13 on the lawn of the John Bryan Community Center; photo: Stephanie Baker

What has one eye and brings thousands of visitors to Yellow Springs for an annual celebration of hand made goods, music and do-it-yourself culture?

For the fourth year in a row, the annual Cyclops Festival will take over the grounds at John Bryan Center, offering visitors the opportunity to shop for treasures created by local vendors and artisans, enjoy music performed by a variety of seasoned DJs and gorge on fine food truck cuisine and imbibe libations skillfully crafted by local brewmasters.

Dayton City Paper recently spoke with Justin Galvin, owner of the Urban Handmade storefront in Yellow Springs and one of the creators of the festival, about their mascot, and the variety of entertainment and goods offered at this year’s event.

Where did the festival get its moniker/mascot?

Honestly, because all the other mythological creatures were already taken by other art and music festivals. Traditionally, the Cyclops is a really weird and unique character in stories and fairy tales. They also have a tendency to terrorize small towns and villages. So we thought, let’s just take a Cyclops, make him loveable and huggable, endear him to an amazing small town and brand an entire handmade festival around him. Luckily, it’s worked out pretty good. – Justin Galvin

Can you describe the breadth and scope of goods available to those who visit the festival?

This year we’ll feature apparel, accessories, jewelry, bath and body, kids, home goods, food trucks and just about every type of art imaginable. The best part is independent artists and small businesses make everything. Each person who visits Cyclops Fest has the opportunity to not only support independent artists and small business owners, but also have the experience of getting a t-shirt the artist not only designed, but also picked the garment, the ink, made the screen and printed themselves. Handmade culture has a very personal vibe to it. You get to know the person you are buying from.  – JG

How many vendors are you expecting this year and how many of them have been with you since the beginning?

This year, we’ll have more than 80 handmade artists and vendors. It’s the most we’ve ever had and we’re really excited so many amazing and talented people are interested in participating in our humble little festival. About 50 percent of our vendors have been with us from the very beginning, which has really helped us to stay consistent and also leaves room for attendees to discover new and interesting artists every year.
– JG

How many visitors are you expecting this year?

We’ve been able to double attendance from year to year. We expect between 10,000 and 12,000 people this year. But, a huge part of that success is because of the really great relationships we’ve built with our sponsors. For instance, Dayton City Paper has been our premier sponsor since day one and their promotion efforts that first year enabled us to get 3,000 attendees. That’s a huge amount for a small, first-year festival. Without them we might have only had 300. – JG

What has the community reaction to the festival been?

Well, Yellow Springs in particular has been incredibly supportive and invested in our success. In addition to organizing Cyclops Fest, we also own Urban Handmade and a small ad agency called Clay + Stan. Being able to make a living doing what makes us happy is truly because of all the love and support this weird, inspiring, crazy and amazing town has given us. – JG

How does the festival distinguish itself from the Yellow Springs Street Fair?

Well, first of all we’re smaller and second of all we focus strictly on handmade culture. The Street Fair is an amazing event the Yellow Springs Chamber of Commerce has been able to pull off each year with an incredible amount of organization and infrastructure. As retail shop owners in town, it’s also a huge boost for business. However, our focus has been to remain a relatively small festival that celebrates the power of creativity and community on a more personal level. – JG

What are the predominant lessons you’ve learned over the course of organizing and putting on the festival?

The most important thing is just staying true to the vision we have for Cyclops Fest and ourselves, which is to create a space where independent artists can showcase their talents, share ideas and collaborate and learn from each other. It’s much easier to organize and manage a festival that is essentially a love letter to creativity that everyone of any age can enjoy. Also, we need porta potties. Lots and lots of porta potties. – JG

Who are the organizers who have been with you since conception of the idea and what strengths do they contribute to the endeavor? 

The Urban Handmade/Clay + Stan crew has put this on since the very beginning. It’s basically DJ Galvin and I, Connie Galvin and Brian Johnson. We’re kind of like the Beatles but with no musical talent whatsoever. DJ is the organized one, I am the “see the big picture” one, Connie is the wise one, and Brian is the jack-of-all-trades.

Also, we get an incredible amount of organizational support by partnering with Holly Simpson and Karen Wintrow of the Yellow Springs Chamber of Commerce. – JG

Will there be musical entertainment this year?  What do each of the performers bring to the event?

Absolutely! Last year we made a decision to focus strictly on DJ sets. It worked out great and that’s what we’re doing again this year. Skratchmatik in particular are not to be missed. Their technical prowess in turntablism is insane and they really bring to light an important part of hip-hop culture that is too often overlooked. – JG

The Cyclops Festival takes place from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 13 on the lawn of The John Bryan Community Center, 100 Dayton St. in Yellow Springs. For more information, please visit

Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Anderl at

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