Is Omaha Zine Fest Growing Into an Annual Print Incubator? (Psh, Obviously)

I got to give my friend Andrea a huge hug yesterday and told her how proud I am of her. Three years ago she and two other people started Omaha Zine Fest, an annual event for independent publishers in Omaha, and yesterday was its third year around the sun. At a zine fest (short for “magazine,” though they kindly allow The New Territory despite our prefix), people gather to share books, screenprints, stickers and other self-published art. They meet other zine creators. They teach and sit in on workshops. Of all the Midwest events where I’ve sold our magazine, this is the most vibrant, supportive environment we’ve encountered and one of the most inspiring days I get to enjoy all year.

In these digital times, it’s gratifying to see the effort folks go to to make and trade physical creations. From where I was parked, I saw license plates from South Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri and Minnesota. I’m sure there were more from the Midwest and beyond. Amazing.

You never know how these things will turn out, and when they’re going so well, I like to look back at their start. In 2016, I stayed with Andrea the weekend of the very first OZF. It was cold and a bit damp, and before the event even opened doors for creators, police blocked off the streets–not for zine fest, but for a St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which forced zinesters to walk for blocks with boxes of books and fight through green-clad crowds that maybe had already hit some Bailey’s.

I don’t want to belabor the downsides. That first OZF had tons of energy, and I made some of my most valuable Nebraska connections to date. But that unexpected parade definitely had the organizers anxious and got the morning off to a very rocky start.

But now look at it.

Last year, OZF relocated to more appropriate digs at the Union for Contemporary Art. It’s been celebrated by Omaha Magazine, Vice, and more. It’s looking really, really good, and yesterday appeared to go off without a hitch. People are driving from several states away. Maybe someday the police will block off streets for a Print Day Parade. Hey, publishers can dream.

I’m in fresh possession of zines concerning:

  • death deities
  • a chapbook by a poet from Lincoln
  • a small book of short stories
  • a book of photos from Ireland, printed by a Kansas City based photography collective
  • creative nonfiction by a woman from Wade, Nebraska
  • a magazine of young adult literature
  • a journal of prose, poetry and pictures
  • a tiny book of sigils for self care, created by a witch

And I’m refreshed for another year of making our own magazine. Thanks, Andrea, Daphne, and all you beautiful OZF volunteers, creators, and fest-goers. It’s truly a pleasure to see what you’re doing.

We’ll be a few other places in the Midwest this month. Check out our schedule here, or sign up for our newsletter to see what else our team is getting into.

ozfzines

 

Tina Casagrand
Tina Casagrand
Tina Casagrand is the publisher of The New Territory magazine, a student of the indie print magazine business, and 8th generation Missourian hell-bent on finding and sharing new possibilities for meaningful life in the Midwest. You can email her at tina[at]newterritorymag.com or tweet to @gasconader.

One Response to “Is Omaha Zine Fest Growing Into an Annual Print Incubator? (Psh, Obviously)

  • Lyndon Johnson
    6 months ago

    I’m glad to hear of the success of OZF in spite of Mother Nature throwing snow into Omaha during the weekend. I only lived in Omaha for 12 years but it will always be a part of my Nebraska history. It is an amazing Midwestern city that will continue to be a proud gateway to Nebraska. I know you and The New Territory will have many more wonderful trips to Omaha.

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