In a city awash with craft fairs and flea markets, someone new is trying something a little different.
“I went to some of the bigger craft shows and went to a few more community-based ones,” Em Curry says. There, they saw “beautiful stuff, but just not on the darker side of life or that more snarky side that I was looking for. So I was like, ‘You know what? Let’s just try it.”
Curry founded the Winnipeg Punk Rock Flea Market (WPRFM), which encourages visitors to “shop local, shop weird.” The market features local vendors and, according to its website, has “more to do with the DIY spirit than it does with a particular music scene or lifestyle.”
The first WPRFM in April was so successful that the next market is happening at a larger, more accessible venue.
“Right before we opened the doors, my mom and dad came, and they were like, ‘Don’t look outside,’” Curry says. “There was a little window I could see outside, and I waslike, ‘Oh my god! There is a lineup around the block!”
The next WPRFM is on Oct. 14 and 15 at the University of Manitoba’s UMSU University Centre. If there’s a line again, attendees can wait inside the building instead of outside, Curry says. There are free parking spaces and reduced parkade rates available during the event.
Curry says curating the right vibe for the market is essential. “I wanted it to feel like going to your first show. Like when you get in there, the music’s playing. There (are) tons of people there, and you’re like, ‘Wow, this is something!’”
Curry has been to their fair share of punk shows over the years. Growing up, the punk community became a lifeline, as it can be for many young people who don’t feel like they fit in anywhere.
“When I was going into ninth grade, so about 12, 13 years old, I was kind of a nerdy kid. I didn’t really fit in anywhere,” Curry says. Their older cousin from Vancouver turned them on to the nascent punk scene.
They mention the first time this cousin played them “actual punk” like Black Flag or Circle Jerks. “I was like, ‘whoa, this is something that needs to be part of my life.’” This led to their involvement in the Winnipeg punk scene.
“I just started skateboarding, and then I was going to shows,” Curry says. “I would go to the West End all the time and just (be) around a bunch of people that just accepted me for who I was. We were all a little bit weird, you know, and just there’s something about seeing live music.”
The upcoming WPRFM will feature more than 90 vendors split over the two days, and Curry has a hard time narrowing down who they are most excited to host.
“We have a couple of really cool ceramics people, Oil & Birch. They’re coming all the way from Edmonton, and they do all kinds of cool stuff. And then Dirt Forms. They were a previous vendor, and they do some amazing ceramics, as well.”
“And yeah, there’s going to be a lot of DJs.”
The next Winnipeg Punk Rock Flea Market takes place on Oct. 14 and 15 at the UMSU University Centre at the University of Manitoba. Admission is free. For more information, visit winnipegpunkrockfleamarket.com.
Published in Volume 78, Number 05 of The Uniter (October 5, 2023)