What Is a Small Press Pub Fair Anyways?

Posted by Sarah Christ, Former GD contributor for 2.2 and 2.1, & editor for 3.1 

Gandy Dancer's table at the Pub Fair!

Gandy Dancer’s table at the Pub Fair!

Last weekend, Gandy Dancer had the honor of tabling at the second annual Visual Studies Workshop Pub Fair in Rochester, NY.   If you’ve never been to a Pub Fair, you’re probably wondering what it even is–I know I was before I went!  Basically, a Pub Fair is a conglomeration of artists, small and independent publishers, and photographers and printmakers who come together to showcase their work to the public.  As writers and artists, we know how difficult it is to find an audience for your work.  Small Press Fairs make it a little easier by pulling together a group of supportive people.

The room the Pub Fair was held in was relatively small, but had a great feeling of community as everyone was interested in each other’s work and what we had to say.  At our table, not only did we get to sell some of our Gandy merchandise, but we also got to spread the word about Gandy Dancer and what we do.  It was extremely rewarding to talk to students from other schools and the general public alike about Gandy Dancer’s mission and our achievements since our start in 2012.  The fair also featured an amazing line up of local authors reading, including Geneseo’s own Professor Lytton Smith.

Walking around the Pub Fair, I was blown away by the wide variety of participants.  I had walked in expecting to see literary journals, but I quickly realized my mistake.  There were other small publications like Gandy Dancer, but there were also letterpress prints and posters, coasters, greeting cards, hand bound journals, and books of photography.  One of the interesting publications I encountered was Chickpea Vegan Quarterly which was a magazine devoted entirely to the vegan lifestyle (I know, you never would have guessed by the name).  I wasn’t drawn to this magazine because I’m a vegan or because I’m interested in becoming a vegan, but because I never knew such a thing existed.  The pages of the magazine were filled with articles about the benefits of being vegan and a splattering of vegan recipes.  As I flipped through the magazine, I talked to the women at the booth and she showed me an inspiring interview in one of their issues about a woman who lost her arm surfing yet continues to surf anyways.  I walked away from the table with a killer grilled peach recipe and the feeling that I had expanded my horizons.

In the end, that is the true essence of a Pub Fair: showcasing and sharing all the wonderful, diverse and thought provoking creations of independent publishers, DIYers and book artists.


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