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Friday, April 19, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Garland Street Fair takes creative detour from Yellow Brick Road

The Garland Street Fair returns to the north Spokane neighborhood for its 12th season Saturday. (File)
The Garland Street Fair returns to the north Spokane neighborhood for its 12th season Saturday. (File)

Toto’s not on Garland anymore.

The annual street fair run by the Garland Business District is veering from tradition, trading its “Wizard of Oz” theme for an emphasis on creative arts. The fair also has combined with the district’s block party, turning two days of events into one.

In its 12th year, the street fair was known for “Oz” costume contests, actors roaming in character as the Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man, and little dogs dressed as flying monkeys.

“Some people love it,” said Julie Shepherd-Hall, who serves on the business district’s board of directors. “Other people thought it was time to make a change.”

So there will be no Dorothy Gale impersonation contest. But there will be plenty of other opportunities for artistic expression.

Children and adults can get their hands arty at painting, sewing, crafts and tie-dye booths. Photographers, jewelry makers and other artists will sell their work. Spray-can artists will demonstrate their techniques. Painters will put up a mural behind the Spokane Art School in its new Garland Avenue location.

Northwest musicians will make a diversity of music – nine bands altogether will play alternative rock, acoustic blues, reggae and more – on the main stage in front of the Garland Theater, 924 W. Garland Ave. The Party Enchantments – princesses who sing and tell stories – will take the stage twice.

The fair’s first farmers market will comprise about a dozen sellers, and food vendors will do the cooking.

The festivities will culminate with an 8 p.m. Runway Renegades fashion show, highlighting the work of six teams of fashion designers, makeup artists, hairstylists, jewelry designers, photographers and models.

The Garland District began to take shape in the 1920s, according to a history on its website. Now the district has 85 member businesses, including spots to eat and drink, clothing and thrift stores, theaters and service agencies.

The street fair and block party are designed partly to boost interest in the district’s offerings, Shepherd-Hall said. Some businesses will run sales and promotions. Some will move merchandise onto the street.

Organizers say the street fair draws about 10,000 people a year.

Sew EZ Too moved to 603 W. Garland Ave. about 12 years ago, manager Tami Yochum said. Yochum said she’s watched new businesses in the district offering a greater variety of products and services and the area get generally “cleaned up.”

The fair has boosted walk-through traffic in past years at the shop, where employees this week loaded discounted yarn and fabric onto carts for a sidewalk sale.

“This is a slow time of the year for everyone, so it does bring extra people in,” Yochum said.

It’ll be M and M Apparel’s first fair. The used-clothing store opened at 635 W. Garland Ave. last year.

But Robert Sobeck, who owns the store with his wife, Auna Sobeck, said they heard it’s a good time – and a chance for businesses to draw customers. They’ll stock a booth with clothing and offer sales in the store Saturday.

They opened their store after joining a Garland-area church.

“We don’t want to just have a store; we want to build a relationship with the people there,” Sobeck said. “And for some reason, Garland has stood out from the beginning.”

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