The Official Parent’s Guide to Independents’ Day

It is the end of an era. For a decade, the Independents’ Day team (which I am honored to be a part of) has helped cultivate creative collaborations and inspire the independent artists, musicians, business owners and leaders of Columbus. This weekend is the final showcase of this annual event, but don’t worry, we have much bigger plans for the future! It is time to strategically abdicate in an effort to make room and opportunity for the next round of creatives to take over.

What began as a fun little beer-fueled street fair back in 2007 has slowly become a vibrant multifaceted celebration of all things Columbus. Through the ID years, our community aged with us, and they, like we, now have children. The festival has adapted to this, but I don’t think we have done it justice by talking enough about how family-friendly we have become. Thus, below are my 10 suggestions towards a parent’s guide to IDX!

  1. kID. In the sixth year of the festival, Ashley Baker (now the 2017 chair of Urban Scrawl and a board member with the Franklinton Arts District), was pregnant and noticed that all of our old friends were pushing strollers and wearing kids on their chests (literally). She noted the calm atmosphere that supported it, but recognized the lack of programming. The following year, Ashley officially joined the leadership team, created a welcoming space behind the Idea Foundry, and started what would become our first festival within the festival. In its sophomore year, she stepped it up with more amenities and more diverse partners. This year they have partnered with Mt. Carmel to bring in a touch-a-truck with their mobile wellness set up. By square foot density, during its open hours, this has become one of the most popular places at all of Independents’ Day!

  2. The music. Everything about the music this year is special. Dereck Dupont and Patrick Locy created the rule for bands to be added that they needed to produce something new and unique. We have bands with choirs, symphonic pieces, projection screens, etc. And this starts at noon each day. Through the generous support of the GCAC, Columbus Foundation and neighboring community partners, we are honored to be able to pay our artists to perform. Bring headphones for the little ones because everyone will enjoy these parts of the party.

  3. The Taivara Trails app. From the folks who digitized the Columbus Coffee Trail and the Short North Art Walks we proudly present the official Independents’ Day app. Think of this as Pokemon Go for our festival goers. All you have to do is visit the mobile site, pick your team (good or evil) and enjoy the festival. By checking in at different locations and for special performances, you can earn points, which you can later redeem at the CD102.5 booth for awesome prizes. This game is fun for everyone, but best when shared with our little friends.

  4. Arrive hungry, leave satisfied. The Independents’ Day food team is amazing and the former food Lieutenant Shelley Mann (food expert, writer and organizer) is now the Captain of this year’s festival, so her team is holding no punches. In addition to the most highly curated line up of Columbus food trucks, they also have a special brunch and a tent in the center of the festival showcasing all things independently delicious.

  5. Speaking of delicious, retired Captain Jacob Wooten has come back with a vengeance over the past several years to create an incredible local drink land/beer garden. Along with wine and liquor, dozens of breweries are bringing their best. Always drink responsibly, have a DD, buy your wife/husband/partner/buddy something nice because some of these drinks will never be available again.

  6. Volunteer. Please set a good example for the minis, plus it is fun.

  7. Tortilla has partnered with EcoLyfe Designs to create a gigantic piñata. This is one of those things that we do not really understand yet, but are looking forward to the unveiling. From what I gather, EcoLyfe is building this giant pinata and anyone can paint it during the day on Saturday. Then on Sunday, it is going to be hoisted up and Walter from Tortilla/Loco Sweets is going to lead the children (and adult children) through an exercise to smash it, releasing hundreds of pounds of traditional Mexican candy and free taco coupons.

  8. Speaking of art things we do not really understand yet, our artists have paired up and created a giant drone-powered floating cloud. Yup! Really weird, perfectly Independents’ Day.

  9. New Americans. There will be a lovely small village. This village is made up of a dozen vendors from every corner of the globe that now call Columbus home. This initiative started at ID last year and has expanded its showcase at Comfest and Hot Times. Thanks to the generous support of Puffin Foundation West and leadership support of Gale Gray, this small section of the festival plot offers international vendors a chance to sell goods, mix, mingle, and collaborate. It is really a beautiful thing, and in a world where our kids are surrounded by negativity in the news, this is a great example of a united world in our own backyard.

  10. Seriously, go to kID. Ashley, Ryan, and their team have worked non-stop for the last three years to make the best festival for our next generation of rockers, rollers, artists, and leaders.

Bringing an end to this chapter is fairly bittersweet, but the opportunity to share it one last time with you and your families makes me extremely proud.

-By Wolf Starr, Contributor

A Father’s Guide to the Columbus Arts Festival

I grew up at the Columbus Arts Festival. It has always been just one weekend of the year, but it stands out to me like any holiday or annual tradition. My father is an exceptionally talented artist. His art took him around the world, introduced him to celebrities, kept food on our table, and provided my siblings and me with braces.

However, I never saw much of that work. What I did see, (from the back of his art booth) was him being a rockstar once a year. Fellow artists, collectors from across the country and friends from long ago would stop by the booth to see what he created in the 52 weeks since they saw him last. They would tell old stories, crack new jokes, trade art, and make a lot of money (a concept that was very foreign to me at that time).

I, unfortunately, did not inherit his visual art skills the way my siblings did, but I did develop a lifelong affinity for the community, diverse passions showcased and the event as a whole. Now that I am a father, it brings me great joy to share this experience with my son from the other side of the booth. Here are a few of my tips to getting the most out of the experience for both you and your family.

Use alternative transportation. This will not be an easy option for all, but even if you are coming from outside the loop, consider parking a little ways out and grabbing a pedicab, car2go or Hopper Cart for a grand entrance to the festivities. For those of us who live closer, you can bike (Pelotonia has a bike corral this year) or take the COTA. My son loves buses. He loves to see them, he loves to sing about them, he loves to tell me how fast they are going, but mostly he just wants to ride the BUS!!

Bring friends and family. The best way to experience this festival is with children. It is a good way to strengthen relationship skills between children and their community by introducing them to people they are comfortable with in different environments. We take his Aunt Lindsay (LaLa) each year and give them a little alone time to pick out a piece of local art for his room.

Get your kid a drink. Preferably in a fancy cup, a coconut or something. It is amazing how children can associate mixed senses with memories at events like this. My personal suggestion is to get a big lemon shake-up and just request that they use A LOT less sugar.

Order off the kids menu. This festival has done a great job over the last few years in bringing in some great local food options. I am a fan of the food trucks but I am biased. If the lines are not long ask for a kids menu, they will not have one, but they will have fun making up options for you. If you go to Tortilla, order the “CBUS Dads Special.”

Dance! They have a special stage for it, but most importantly just dance!

Befriend a local artist. This is one of my favorite parts, I like eccentric, interesting people and this festival is full of them. My personal artist of the year is Andrew Lundberg in the Big Local Art Tent. If Franklinton is our renaissance district, he is our Michelangelo, partly because he can build/paint anything beautifully, and partly because he is a party dude (Cowabunga!)

Enjoy the activity village. You and your kin can screenprint shirts, beta-test video games, learn musical instruments, design an art tote, design jewelry, build a sandcastle, and so much more! (I’m especially excited to check out the catapult painting with Grayson this year!)

Listen to the music of the people in the city. GCAC is one of the greatest supporters of art anywhere. If you like the music at Independents’ Day and that we pay our artists, you have GCAC to thank. Thus, it is no surprise that they have not held back building this year’s lineup. Grayson will be on my shoulders with his bright blue headphones on a lot this weekend.

Breath and enjoy the experience. Just load up a bag with a clean outfit, a few toys, lots of water, tasty snacks, and let the festival be your guide.

This (as well as all of my blogs) has been edited by the lovely Miss Ashley Baker for co-parent consent, grammar, and to make sure my dad jokes are only kinda dumb.

-By Wolf Starr, Regular Contributor