Heroes and villains clashed on the dance floor and mingled with the diverse crowd as “Creative Edmonton” hosted a themed market event at MacEwan University earlier this month.
Creative Edmonton hosts semi-regular gatherings that connect the public with local artists, food producers, handmade gifts and, in this case, a comic book store to link to the Heroes and Villains theme. The event also links vendors themselves with each other, explained organizer Sonya Ghalehdar.
“People are interested in the story behind the products they use, which is the most essential part of this,” she said.
“[This is about] bringing together arts, business and music. If we provided somewhere for people to do that, then our job is done.”
Similar markets have been hosted by the group for two years, each supporting various charities. There were 40 vendors at the MacEwan event, up from 23 two years ago. This time, ticket sales ($10 in advance, $15 at the door) went to support the United Way’s Tools for Schools.
The fact that the kids who get school supplies may one day come to MacEwan as students appeals to Ghalehdar.
“It’s a good tie in with the university, a perfect fit,” she said.
Jaime Pruden, volunteer organizer with Creative Edmonton, noted how kids of all ages also attended the evening’s event, many dressed as superheroes and taking part in the dance performances.
“[Each market] brings out a different crowd, especially for this theme,” she said. “There’s people here from every scene.”
For Pruden, who is also an artist and student at MacEwan, forums like this are about giving Edmonton’s creators “that chance to show everyone what they got.”
That showcase also allows for collaboration. Sisters Jenny and Chelsea who started their home-based clothing company Hot Dame last November have worked with local artists for images to include on their growing product selection.
The focus on local was on display, all the way up to Wolverine, a superhero with Alberta origins from Caring Character Cosplay. The group of masked volunteers supports causes in the community that could use some heroic flair.
“We believe that we’re not the real heroes, we just hope to be an inspiration,” Wolverine (a.k.a. Dale K.) said, noting that kids going to school from tough circumstances or fighting an illness in hospital were the “real heroes.”
The cosplay organization does events for all kinds of causes, but the applicable Heroes and Villains theme for the night came from suggestions from attendees of Creative Edmonton’s past events.
“More than ever, geek culture is embedded into our day-to-day,” Wolverine said.
Also with a booth at the market was a rescuer of another kind: Fruits of Sherbrooke. The organization makes jams and sauces out of fruit that would otherwise go to waste in people’s yards.
Renee Howard, one of the not-for-profit’s market representatives, is a biologist who started in the Sherbrooke’s kitchens as a volunteer. Now she attends approximately five markets a week with the fruit products on offer.
“[These products] all come from food that people could use but don’t know how,” Howard said.
Creative Edmonton’s aim is to solve problems like this one by connecting people with products and opportunities they otherwise wouldn’t have known about. Their success is found by taking a bit more time to understand, promote and care, Ghalehdar explained.
“Taking an extra five minutes is our charm as a team,” she said.
The next Creative Market, its location and theme will be announced with a November date.