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Posted on Sun, Dec 5, 2010 : 5:42 a.m.

Krampus Costume Ball set to celebrate the holidays indie-style

By Jennifer Eberbach

Ypsilanti’s Shadow Art Fair breaks from its usual format this winter. Usually, the semiannual art sale and music event features vendors selling art and crafts, nonprofit groups, bands and other creative happenings.

This time, the event’s planners, the Michigan Design Militia, decided to change things up and throw a “Krampus Costume Ball,” on December 11 from 8 p.m. to midnight (admission, 2 cents) at the Corner Brewery, 720 Norris St. in Ypsilanti.

The “Krampus Costume Ball” will be “a kind of glam, sci-fi monster dance party,” like “a monster prom,” according to Shadow Art Fair organizer Mark Maynard. Guests can get creative with their costumes and interpret the theme as they wish. DJ’s will spin dance music and a prom-style photo booth will be on site to capture the moment.

“In contrast to Santa’s gift-giving to good children, Krampus, a darker, scarier, incubus-like creature is a punisher of children who are bad,” according to the Shadow Art Fair’s announcement. The mythological character is found in folklore from Germany and other parts of Europe; however, he is lesser known in America.

Maynard has “been fascinated with Krampus for the past several years, since I first learned of his existence through my friend, the cultural anthropologist of all things strange and Fortean, Doug Skinner. Doug had sent me a turn-of-the-century Austrian greeting card. On it, Krampus, a large, shaggy, bipedal horned beast with wild, flaming eyes and a forked tongue, was lashing plump, rosy-cheeked children and stuffing them into sacks...I was hooked,” he recently wrote on his blog.

He says the idea for a “Krampus Costume Ball” happened after “I threw out the idea of a midnight Krampus parade through the streets of Ypsi, during which people, dressed like monsters, would rattle chains and terrify children into being good and respectful.”

Some Shadow Art Fair regulars might miss patronizing their usual vendors this winter. The Michigan Design Militia promises that aspects of the Shadow Art Fair (the vendors and music) that people have grown to love are not going away. “What we’ve done is taken the vendor-based fair out of the game for this winter’s event and replaced it with something that really allows anyone in the community to show their artistic side. Everyone can participate in this winter’s Shadow. Each time we plan a Shadow, we’re trying to think of ways to expand our event deeper within the community,” according to Shadow Art Fair organizer Jennifer Albaum.

As always, the Corner Brewery will serve up new “Shadow Brews.” Just like Krampus and Santa, one will be “naughty” and the other “nice.”

The Shadow Art Fair is expected to return to its usual format for next summer's fair.

Meanwhile, you can still get your holiday art shopping fix at a couple of local art and craft sales. Whip Stitch Art & Craft Fair presented by the Ann Arbor Derby Dimes takes place on December 5 from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Corner Brewery.

A new Shadow Art Fair-esque art and craft sale has also popped up in Ann Arbor. The first ever “Tiny Expo,” is hosting around 20 to 25 artists at 325 & 327 Braun Court, next to Kerrytown, on December 11 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.