In 2017, José Atencio, owner of Milly’s Empanada Factory, and friends Bryan Herrero and Andre Alvarez set out to entice Miamians to come out west. Their goal: to showcase the wealth of talent emerging from the suburb of Kendall with West Kendall Zine Fest (WKZF).
This year, the young fest and its cofounders are marking a milestone. “We’re celebrating our big third birthday," Atencio says. "That’s kind of how we are treating it. A lot of primary colors, balloons.” He jokes, “We want to welcome you to a 3-year-old’s birthday party.”
The 2019 festival welcomes long-time WKZF collaborator Nicole Spencer as an official member of its team. Spencer developed this year’s branding, from the festival’s logo to motion graphics and other design elements.
This Sunday, April 21, Milly’s Empanada Factory will host the publishing, design, and arts festival in the shopping center's parking lot, attracting zine lovers from all corners of Miami-Dade County. The festival has gained some extra display space this year from the neighboring bodega, which is allowing the festival to use its parking area. A diverse lineup includes more than 80 vendors featuring zines, apparel, festival firsts such as furniture design, face painting, and more. You can expect to see works by Baghead; Chloe Martini and Jenny Bird; Sally Hunter; Goochsoup; and many others. The event is free and open to the public.
“We have tripled in size since year one,” Atencio proudly proclaims. “I looked at the first year’s lineup, and looked at this year’s lineup, and it really has shown how we have grown, how West Kendall’s recognition has grown. We have people coming down from West Palm. We have someone coming down from Orlando.”
This year, the festival is bringing a sponsor onboard for the first time, partnering with Baptist Health South Florida. “They’re getting really creative for West Kendall Zine Fest," Atencio says. “They’re going to be providing pineapples for everyone; they’re going to have a pineapple truck [and] a photo booth.” Having a sponsor has allowed WKZF to reduce vendor fees by $5 apiece, Atencio notes.
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The expansive music lineup will include sounds by Technique Records, Ant Puke, Balloutboy, Frankie, DJ Spacey, Palomino Blond, and Las Rosas’ the Love Below party.
It's no secret neighborhoods like Kendall often get overlooked when it comes to art and culture. But events like the West Kendall Zine Fest are shifting Miami's perspective on the suburb and changing outsiders' minds. Asked if he thinks a cultural shift is happening, Atencio says, "Absolutely. I feel like people don't look down upon Kendall as much." He adds, "I think year one people were like 'Who's gonna go to Kendall?' And now it's like, 'Let's get in the car, kids; we're going to Kendall.' It's that one day of the year that the attention shifts to Kendall."
West Kendall Zine Fest. Noon to 7 p.m. Sunday, April 21, at Milly’s Empanada Factory, 13911 SW 66th St., Miami; 305-791-1848; millysfactory.com. Admission is free.