Smile Politely

Community interaction at the heart of C-U Flea

Starting at 12:00 p.m. this Saturday, Parasol Records in Urbana will be hosting the second C-U Flea. The Flea, which is a bi-monthly do-it-yourself swap meet and live music showcase, was well attended in May with all vendors turning a profit. Co-Organizer Cole Rabenort promises this month’s event will feature new vendors and three new bands.

“It was sort of a test,” Rabenort, 24, said of May’s event. “We wanted to see if people would enjoy this and if it was worthwhile to put it on.”

The Flea passed with flying colors, spurring Rabenort and fellow Co-Organizer Millie Wright, 25, to build on the initial success.

“We’ll have a few repeat vendors, but the majority of them will be different,” Rabenort went on. “All of the bands playing are distinctly different, but very complimentary.”

Featured on stage will be Goblin Colors, My Werewolf Diary (shown below, performing at Exile), and Lonely Trailer. Vending will conclude at 3:00 p.m., signaling the start of the musical performances which will last till 6:00 p.m.


Other additions to this month’s Flea will include the services of Timothy Chao from Neutral Cycle Workshop in Urbana. Free on-the-spot tune-ups and tire pumps will be offered, something Rabenort is very excited about.

“We want to get people to ride their bikes,” Rabenort said. “Tim will be able to tell people if there is something wrong and give some advice. We really hope he becomes a staple thing for this.”

The Co-Organizer went on to add that he believes the visual artwork that will be displayed on Saturday will draw a lot of attention as well.

“People will be amazed to see some of the paintings and collages at this month’s event. Last time we had some really nice handmade hats and shirts, but the visual art will be fun to see,” Rabenort said. “We want people to get some art for their home.”

On Saturday, Rabenort and a friend will be outside of Parasol Records handing out watermelon purchased from Urbana’s Market at the Square for free to those coming to the Flea. The act sets the scene for what Rabenort calls “an excuse for everyone to get together and hang out on a Saturday.”

While living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, for a year, Rabenort stumbled upon an event that offered a number of different goods at great prices, all topped off with a performance.

“I was new to the area, and it was just the best introduction I could’ve had,” he said, reflecting back. “It helped me meet a lot of people and just gave me a great impression of the town. I knew immediately the people of Champaign-Urbana would enjoy something like it.”

Bearing in mind the fact that there is always an influx of new students, young professionals, and everything that follows moving into the area, Rabenort began organizing an event that would provide “a place to meet neighbors that you just might never meet.”

  Shoppers during May’s flea enjoying the afternoon

The Co-Organizer expressed his belief that some people are quick to label Champaign-Urbana as “small,” something he’d like to reverse.

“You know you hear sometimes from people that ‘Everybody knows everybody,’ regarding here,” Rabenort explained. “That couldn’t be further from the truth. There are so many random great people that you might not be aware of, whether that be an artist, musician, or just a potentially really great new friend.”

C-U Flea is meant to be a forum for the type of interaction that can bring people from all walks of life together because of a shared interest — informal economy.

“We’re promoting the idea of recycled goods,” Rabenort said. “We’re trying to give people a venue that isn’t the traditional mall setting.”

This alternative consumerism, Rabenort hopes, will show customers that they do not need to rely on “big box stores.”

“They can get their goods from the community, from their neighbors,” Rabenort said, “and it’s a far better way, a little utopian idea.”

Be sure to check out C-U Flea’s Facebook page. Organizers would like to remind those planning to go that this event is BYOB.

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