The eyes have it

Yellow Springs’ Cyclops Fest attracts the unique

By Tammy Newsom

Photo: The annual Cyclops Fest takes place Sept. 12; photo: Stephanie Baker

In Yellow Springs, for one day in September, a capricious mythological one-eyed creature opens the door to the locally grown, the handmade and the weird. Like the mythological Cyclops, many local entrepreneurs of handmade wares congregate here because they may find it difficult to be seen anywhere else. Even with public opinion ideally swaying from pre-fab manufactured goods to handmade, many festivals feature local business selections but do not sort out distinctly handmade, locally produced and non-manufactured products.

The impetus began in May 2009 with the development of a family-owned handmade retail operation in Yellow Springs, formed between Justin Galvin, mom Connie, wife DJ Galvin and their friend Brian Johnson. This boutique, named Urban Handmade, set out to distribute and sell items hand-crafted from local vendors. Urban Handmade was created, in a way, as a bit of advertisement for artisans and foodies little-known to the general public.

“As far as a favorite item, that’s tough to choose,” DJ Galvin says. “We work with over 50 artists day to day, and all their items are wonderful. We are known for our range of funny, iconic and Ohio-inspired T-shirts and apparel.”

With a bit of whimsy and advertising panache, it was observed that these eclectic brands would attract even more attention at a festival event.

“Brian, Justin, Mom and I found through market research that music festivals with one-word names were the most effective and attracted the most consistent and loyal following,” says DJ Galvin, co-owner of Urban Handmade.

The first Cyclops hatched in 2011 and is now preparing to celebrate its fifth year with as many as 85 handmade suppliers.

“Cylcops Fest was named with the idea of a Cyclops who creates and paints his own, which became the official logo and mascot of the festival,” DJ Galvin says.

Any local vendor, craftsman, artisan or retailer was encouraged to join and register a booth for the fest, as long as the items bore quality standard and were deliberately handmade. Registration is open to any non-manufactured purveyor or maker of house wares, apparel, T-shirts and gifts.

A craft beer garden and the food truck court are sponsored by the city of Yellow Springs, a festival partner.

Several DJs are brought in each year to perform, and this year, local four-member acoustic act the Repeating Arms will perform between 5-7 p.m. on the day of the festival.

The festival features a Best-In-Show vendor from the previous year, who is awarded with a free booth in the coming season. The 2014 winner was Preble Clayworks, owned by Judd and Amy Dillon. An attraction to nature along with an interest to investigate historical techniques is what inspires the work of ceramist Amy. She established Preble Clayworks in 2004. The company handcrafts jewelry, newly created and vintage, using molds.

Another favorite appearing again this year is Artifact Pottery, of Franklin, Ohio, known for themed ceramic dinnerware, barware and decor.  Some favorite themes like Day of the Dead, tiki and pop-art also reappear.

Serving gourmet hotdogs and meal combos is festival regular Zombie Dogz. ZD moves its traveling cart to various Dayton venues, festivals and parks. The menu highlights zombie culture with meal dog combos like Blood Graffiti and the Cuban, Juan of the Dead and handmade side dishes such as the pineapple applesauce and sweet potato salad. Another food option is the smokinbeebeeq, which smokes meat free of hormone injections over wood and uses honey bees to provide the sweetener for the homemade sauces—no refined sugar.

Retailers will include Mr. Sogs, a company that makes animal puppets, plush creatures and greeting cards. Another is 7thirty8 Apparel, out of Zanesville, which designs and prints T-shirts using soft-based inks. FUSEtheory Cincinnati will be selling graphic artwork and hand-dyed apparel designed to be flawed to appeal to an audience that values individuality.

The Fifth Annual Cyclops Fest takes place Saturday, Sept. 12 from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. at the John Bryan Center, 100 Dayton St. in Yellow Springs. Admission is free. For more information, please visit cyclopsfest.com.

Reach DCP freelance writer Tammy Newsom at TammyNewsom@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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