|photo by Bettie Walker (http://www.flickr.com/photos/bettieriot)|
On Sunday 25th September, the first ever Sheffield Zine Fair was held at Brezza’s Cafe on Wellington Street in the city and I was lucky enough to go along. Having been to only two other fests before, I was a little nervous but extremely excited.
I was staying in Sheffield with Jess from "Rough Draft" zine so finding the venue was pretty easy; a small, dark and cosy coffee house with ridiculously comfy sofas that ate you up when you sat down, hidden behind a department store, that was not much of a walk from the train station. We were welcomed by a busy and bustling venue, with people all over. There were tables full of all different types of zines and we were welcomed in by smiley people as we came through the door (which in my other two zine fest experiences, isn’t the norm!) which made both Jess and I much less anxious.
|image by Spin Lix|
Jess and I wandered around Brezza which was a small but not cramped space, picking up zines and having a browse. The first thing that caught my eye, after the overflowing freebies table, was that most people were selling zines for only £1-£2, with maybe a pound or two more for ‘art zines’, which made me very happy; previously, I have come across hand sewn booklets of 4 or 5 pages with wonderful drawings for up to £10, which is a price I don’t associate with zines!
After having a little look around in the first room, we went into the next and headed to see Bettie ("Anatomical Heart"/"Buy Her Candy") and get her newest issue. While in the 2nd, much larger room, I found plenty of lovely people to talk to, again a welcome change, including the Sugar Paper gang, Chella Quint ("Adventures in Menstruating"), Cath ("Here. In My Head.") and other awesome people whose names I didn’t catch.
The fest was on from 11am til 6pm, but we arrived just after 12 and stayed till 5. The venue was buzzing with people the whole time. There was an array of different people there, from the typical arty alternative types, to punks, families with children and older people having a nose at what was going on. Throughout the day there were workshops on topics such as kerb crawling, crafts, and zine readings, featuring Cath, Chella, and other brave zinesters.
The people at the Sheffield Zine Fair were much more welcoming and warm than those at other fests I have attended. There also seemed to be much less elitism going on, with people chatting away from both behind and in front of the tables. There was an eclectic mix of music playing and the atmosphere was great. While table sitting for Cath, people spoke to me much more, even mistaking me for her, while talking about Here. In My Head (sorry Cath!). I also found that people were less pushy and uptight about their zines as I have experienced at other fests, which made the whole experience much better for me, personally.
I personally picked up some amazing and interesting zines; "Buy her Candy", "Kerb Crawled", "Get Back", "Pandora Press", and "Be Honourable", as well an awesome zine about feminist child rearing called "Raise Some Hell". I was a little disappointed about the lack of distros at this event, as many couldn't make it on the day. It was a shame because I personally prefer looking through what a distro has to offer rather than an individual stall, as it can be less awkward. I didn’t let this spoil the event however, as talking to individuals about their own zines was a welcome challenge and change for me and everyone I spoke to was more than happy to talk about their wares.
Overall, the zine fair was a great, comfortable experience, which for a first time event, is amazing! I look forward to next year's fair and who knows, maybe I’ll have my own table this time! It was a wonderful experience to meet zinesters who I could only discover through fests as well as finally getting to meet Cath, in all her purple haired glory (her Mum was sweet too!) (aw shucks - ed.). I am full of praise for the organisers of the first Sheffield Zine Fair and can only hope they continue to put on the event every year.
|photo by Bettie Walker|