On Saturday, Nov. 6, Grand River’s punk scene saw the triumphant return of punk music and culture. The Rhythm and Brews dining room was packed to the brim with local punk vendors carrying an assortment of items including animal skulls, retro video games, pins, buttons, t-shirts, and belts for The Punk Rock Flea Market. There was also a large selection of local punk and alternative bands playing throughout the day. Patrons were able to shop around while listening to their favourite local music.
Stacie Robinson and Kyle Wappler, alongside a team of fellow alternative music enthusiasts, worked tirelessly to ensure a smooth event. This was the first punk event that Robinson and Wappler worked on together.
“My favourite part was seeing all of the familiar faces again and seeing and meeting new vendors. We actually have had many new vendors this time—about 10 or 11. We had five vendors return that vended at markets before. [Also] It was so fun closing out the event with my partner, Chris,” Robinson said.
Robinson handled the recruitment and booking for vendors while Wappler worked with Zack Schaffer to book the venue and Chris Walton helped oversee the event altogether. Development of the Punk Flea Market at Cambridge began in June when capacity restrictions were being lifted and was initially an outdoor event. The bar rail was adorned with old tickets from classic shows like the Rolling Stones and Triumph. All patrons and participants were abuzz with excitement with coming back to the live music scene after almost 2 years. Although folks seemed to be carefree, Robinson and her team made sure that participants were also being safe.
“The venue capacity was 200, so with COVID-19, we were pretty careful to stay in that capacity. We were trying to test the waters with the way COVID-19 restrictions have been,” Robinson said.
“I’m scared, and also tentative. There’s the fear but also it’s nice to reconnect,” Breila Rose, owner of Burnt Toast Creations, said. “[It’s] awesome and beautiful, especially because the punk scene is unifying. But also it’s hard to meet new people.”
Rose’s booth was filled with items created from natural and recycled materials. With the help of her partner Mack they were able to create a booth that was filled with unique punk merchandise.
Crystal Palarca, owner of Dead Things Boutique, was another vendor who was able to participate in the market. Palarca’s shop specializes in animals skulls, bones, insects, specimens and taxidermy.
“[It] feels awesome, it’s nice to be at a live show and it’s great to have a space here with people like me. I still wanna do markets, [but] because of COVID-19, I started doing art and being on Etsy, it can only go up from here for me!” Palarca said.
Robinson and Palarca will be hosting a Krampus market at the Red Chevron in Guelph, on Dec. 18 at 1:30 p.m.
Em Cunningham of Hush Puppy Designs was an excited member of the vendor roster. Her shop specialized in original art prints, accessories, portraits, and logo designs.
“I do a lot of different markets, this one is my favorite because people don’t just come to shop, they come to support local music. It’s nice to see people doing their thing and talking to each other. The Human communication is so important, and I want to keep participating in events like this and making more connections locally,” Cunningham said.
The excited faces behind masks of staff, vendors, and patrons alike adorned the restaurant like flashing bulbs of light and hope. The market was welcomed readily and the return for the alternative music community in Waterloo Region was highly anticipated.