I am a zine newbie – and quite enthusiastic. Zines are small, usually self-published works on every imaginable topic. They are creative forms of self-expression that love to be shared, traded and cherished. You might describe them as hand-made booklets filled with words, art, photography and quirky designs. In the past, I’ve made them but didn’t know they had a name. I’ve learned there is an active world of zinesters who connect, gather and meet for fun. This weekend anyone can dip their toes or dive headlong into an array of free activities at the Olympia Zine Fest.

hawks prairie casinoThe fun kicks off Friday night at the Olympia Timberland Library with three (yes, three) live bands. Listen to Spider and the Webs, Dr. Identity and VOG. Some of the band members are zine makers. Guest of honor Osa Atoe will be on hand. Musical artist, potter and zine creator, Atoe will bring her own flair to the evening. Mix and mingle with the community; meet others who create zines or just enjoy the sights and sounds. The library has a collection of 2,000 zines.

olympia zine fest
Zine Organizers have been working all year to put on a fabulous weekend. The group includes (from left) front row: Kelsey Smith, Melanie Shelton, Sage Adderley-Knox, Nicki Sabalu and Ally Mackey. Back row: Alyssa Giannini and Naiomi Bell.

Saturday’s Tabling Expo at the Olympia Center features all measure of zines. Themes range from hilarious views of life to social commentaries to gender orientation to fantasy to poetry.

If you can imagine a topic, someone probably has one for you to enjoy. Zines tend to be personal and meaningful. They can have adult themes, but Olympia Zine Fest is family friendly. Did you know that there are lots of young people who make zines? One of the Sunday workshops is especially for youth.

olympia zine fest
Guest of Honor Osa Atoe is a teacher, artist and musician now living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Photo credit: David Ensminger.

The Olympia Zine Fest organizers stressed that people creates zines for lots of reasons but financial gain is not usually one of them. It’s a passionate and creative way to express ideas. The organizers are all hooked on the zine as medium and experience. They wanted this free event to be accessible to everyone in the community.

Throughout the weekend, you will be able to meet the creators, buy their zines and you can even bring your own to trade. Get a special button that says, “Up for Trade.” Get to know the tablers ahead of time by reading about their motivations and unique traits. See their photos, too, on the tumblr site. If you page down through the interviews, you will find a map of the table artists and locations.

Obsidian is hosting an evening of games from on Saturday from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00. It is also the site of one of the free workshops on Sunday. Melanie Shelton, baker/teacher, will be presenting on successful recipes for cookzines. There’s a workshop for getting started – and more. For details check out the Olympia Zine Fest website.

olympia zine fest
Last year’s tablers Archive 6 is a small press and zine distributor based in Renton, Washington, carrying work centered around art, social justice, feminism, WOC, intersectionality, fat activism, and survival. Photo credit: Emily McHugh.

If you are still wondering what a zine is or looks like, watch this three-minute Vimeo from one of the local organizers, Nicki Sabalu. It’s explains a lot and can even help you get started on your own. For more zine resources, visit Stolen Sharpie Revolution, which is also the name of a book by Alex Wrekk. Olympia organizer Sage Adderley-Knox manages a zine-distro, (a distributionor) a place to find zines and related materials. It’s parent and kid friendly.

Regardless of the weather this weekend, you can take part in the second annual Olympia Zine Fest. Be inspired, laugh, make a friend and expand your horizons – right here in town and it’s all for free. You can discover ideas to use with your kids, in your classroom, at your desk.

olympia zine fest
Animals transcend gender and race and are often used in zines. Art courtesy: Erika Rier.

Dust off the far-reaching corners of your mind. Zines are funny and poignant – intriguing and amazing.

Just one warning: After attending you may need to visit your favorite office supply store to find a few more pens and paper supplies.

For more info on the Olympia Zine Fest you can visit their Facebook page, Twitter feed or Tumblr.

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