Arts & CultureCampus & City

OddBird Art & Craft Fair prepares for first-ever market

The new fair aims to carry the spirit of the Royal Bison Art and Craft Fair, while creating a new and fresh space for Edmonton artists and craft lovers.

From 2007 to 2023, the Royal Bison Art and Craft Fair served as an outlet for local artists to showcase their weird and fun goods, offering Edmontonians an eclectic variety of arts and crafts to choose from. Although the Royal Bison retired last year, its spirit lives on through the upcoming OddBird Art & Craft Fair.

OddBird was founded by past vendors and organizers of Royal Bison. The first market, set for May 10 – 12, will feature 65 vendors.

Zeph Mitchell, a collage artist and founder of Zeph Mind, and Genevieve Ongaro, the artist behind Material Culture Ceramics, are both on the OddBird team. Both were previously involved with the Royal Bison.

Royal Bison was founded in 2007 by Raymond Biesinger. When Biesinger moved to Montréal in 2009, three local artists were put in charge. Of the three, two eventually moved away, leaving Vikki Wiercinski as the sole main organizer.

Before Royal Bison’s retirement, Wiercinski told The Gateway that by stepping away, the new generation of artists would have room to create a fair with new and fresh ideas.

Royal Bison’s retirement “gave way to make space for something new,” Ongaro says

Ongaro said the organizers were involved in discussions about Royal Bison’s retirement. Although it was an emotional time for the community, Ongaro said that even then they knew it wasn’t the end.

“OddBird is able to continue the spirit of Royal Bison,” Mitchell explained. He said that many organizers came together to create the new fair, but it took weeks to figure out the name. According to Ongaro, over 300 names were considered. The goal was for the name to keep the spirit of the Royal Bison, while being new and fresh.

“The retiring gave way to make space for something new. We’re hoping to continue the same feeling and community,” Ongaro said. “And, hopefully get to do lots of things that engage the community and vendors in different ways.”

Both Mitchell and Ongaro expressed that reception from vendors and the public has been very positive, which has made the upcoming market even more exciting.

“People are excited about it. All the vendors were super supportive and happy that something was taking the place of Royal Bison,” Ongaro shared. “I’m excited for myself as a vendor too.”

Mitchell described how OddBird plans to keep Royal Bison’s spirit alive by providing a space for Edmonton artists to try new things, and “help artists grow their practice and evolve.” Ongaro added that OddBird will be providing more opportunities for new artists and creators.

“Royal Bison was always good at doing that. But we’re hoping to take it further and hopefully provide some more opportunities.”

Lily Polenchuk

Lily Polenchuk is the 2024-25 Editor-in-Chief of The Gateway. She previously served as the 2023-24 Managing Editor, 2023-24 and 2022-23 News Editor, and 2022-23 Staff Reporter. She is in her second year, studying English and political science.

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