With threats of rain all week, Ravenswing 2011 was held outdoors again this year, despite a rainy start to the day. I showed up around 10:30 and it was sprinkling. Mr. Adam Thomlison set up his table beside me 10 minutes later and it was outright pouring. As we are both purveyors of pulp-based products, neither of us put anything on the tables, which were rapidly pooling water. We huddled under a tree and discussed how the recent Canadian weather seemed to parallel the mood of many after electing a Harper majority. Eventually, Adam pulled out a clear garbage bag which he proceeded to cut in half and cover a few books with. I sacrificed two books to put on display in the rain. Somehow, we made a few sales that first hour. A container of cream spilled a few tables over, and washed our way. Passing dogs began pulling at their leashes to get at the cream puddle.
Around noon the rain stopped. Our sheltering tree was now spraying occasional droplets on us, so we moved our tables from under the trunk, and I began putting a few more items out. Adam eventually decided the tree-drop ratio was no longer an issue and he uncovered his books from their plastic display enhancer. We made more sales. Dogs continued to express interest in the cream, which was slowly dissolving into the ground.
Another hour later, sun begins shining, and by early afternoon everything was dry and the sun was out in full. My table has everything I brought on display now, and sales pick up even more. The crowd is as busy as previous years. We notice the cream is completely gone.
In 2008 I attended — as a vendor — my first Ravenswing Craft & Zine Fair, held at Minto Park in downtown Ottawa. I had met two of the organizers — Sean Zio, and Mary Ellis — earlier in the year, and the fair seemed like a good fit. Indeed, I was delighted by the crowd it drew — a mix of random passers-by, and people in the know. My first day at Ravenswing was documented in part in Stranger Things 2.
Ravenswing is one of the events that, in my mind, captures the hidden city — the Ottawa that an outsider may not expect. My friend and collaborator, Kevin, came from Montreal one year and found the crowd very interested in his esoteric zine, Four Minutes to Midnight. He was pleasantly surprised by the sizeable, engaged, alternative scene in this government town.
This year Ravenswing is held on May 29th, 12-5pm in Minto Park on Elgin Street, Ottawa. I will be there selling limited editions of my comix, and a few prints.