MANSFIELD — Michaela Martin strutted through Central Park, rocking a purple crochet mini skirt and white, knee-high go-go boots.
The Square was abuzz Saturday for ManAfest, formerly known as the Mansfield Arts and Culture Festival.
This year, the outdoor music and arts festival featured a fashion show for the first time.
Nine designers showcased their work during the ManAfest Couture Fashion Show, including Mansfield native Tasia Martin. Martin created the go-go girl outfit as well as a hippie-inspired floral top.
“I really can crochet anything as a long as I have a pattern,” said Martin, owner of Handmae’d Crochet. “I’ve been crocheting since I was in third grade.”
Martin typically focuses on items like hats, blankets and crop tops, but decided to try something different for the show.
“I took a chance making something more artsy and wearable,” she said. “My inspiration was ’70s disco.”
Local designer Hanmayde cut up thrift-store pieces, sewing different colors and patterns together to create something new.
“I guess my style is breathing life into things that have already lived,” they said.
Patrick Clinage spent about six months crafting his ensemble, a combination of Persian wool, fox fur and three different types of leather. His best friend Ashlea Shaw modeled the outfit.
Shelby native Lily Mier spearheaded the show. DISCO Hair Tech provided hair and makeup services. Haring Jewelers provided jewelry for the models.
“I think for the first year, it couldn’t have gone any better,” Mier said. “I have some ideas already for next year, maybe a zero waste show or a recycled show would be really cool.”
Other designers included Han Mayde, dm5k, Raegan Steffan, Tajee Anderson, Uncommon Nostalgia, The Piece Lily and RCDG.
A place for local and independent artists to shine
ManAfest 2023 featured 80 vendors, including local and independent artists and food trucks.
“The festival went very well today,” said Clinage, who helped organize the festival.
“We had more people this year than last, so we’re seeing the expansion taking place. It’s just wonderful to see everybody come out and participate in support of our local artists.”
Art ranged from paintings to mixed media works to crocheted and knitted goods.
Cara Lisius sold hand-crafted jewelry, made from copper wire and semi-precious stones. She started making necklaces and earrings about six months ago.
“I have a hand tremor. It runs down my dad’s family and our hands just shake,” Lisius said. “I started doing this to strengthen my hands. It helped tremendously, but it turned out I also loved it.”
For the second year in a row, the festival also included juried awards.
Olie Francis won the Innovation in Art Award for his customizable mobility tags.
The colorful tags can be attached with velcro to wheelchairs and other mobility aids. They have pockets for displaying medical information or other signage.
“I use a wheelchair every once and awhile and I couldn’t find any accessories for my wheelchair,” Francis said. “I wanted to decorate it, so I made my own.”
Francis launched his business through the Richland Area Chamber’s Young Entrepreneurs Academy. He also sells buttons, stickers and inserts for the mobility aids.
One bears a message that’s personal for Francis. The words “NOT ALL DISABILITIES ARE VISIBLE” pop against a black backdrop and a rainbow.
“I look like a very normal, able-bodied person.” said Francis, who has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. “When I’m in my wheelchair, people give me looks all the time.”
Francis said he hopes his art empowers people to be themselves, particularly those with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Other award winners included:
Rachel Stanley, Best in Show.
Drew Anderson, Paul McClain Legacy Award for Painting.
Rochelle Brown, Fine Craftsmanship in Wood Award.
Judith Yerger, Creative Vision Photography Award.
Veronica Carter, Woven Community Fiber Award.
Donna Sutherland, Shaped in Clay Award.
Abby Hostettler, Simply Unique Jewelry Award.
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