LAAFF lines

KEEPING ASHEVILLE WEIRD: A festival volunteer shows off her LAAFFcentric style in 2011. Photo by Alli Marshall

2002: First LAAFF. Local artist Sean “Jinx” Pace, won first place for sculpture with his piece, “The Deconstruction of a Piano Lesson” — a suspended pogo stick and a broken piano that unleashed mangled notes as participants jumped up and down.

2003: The festival raised funds to provide art classes to teens at the Swannanoa Youth Center. The lineup included The OxyMorons Comedy Troupe, rockers DrugMoney and burlesque performers The Rebelles.

2004: “All artists scheduled to show at LAAFF live in Western North Carolina,” Xpress reported, “while two festival stages will boast strictly local bands, and six Asheville restaurants will dish up culinary treats.”

2005: Toubab Krewe headlined and BoBo Gallery and Shady Grove Courtyard offered their spaces for additional performances.

2006: “The planning committee decided LAAFF needed to be more diverse this year,” said planner Jeremy Long. Enter Flamenco Saltado, Soora Gameela, Baraka Mundi, Banana da Terra, the Shining Rock Reggae Band and Nbale (Newborn Ancient Love Ensemble) with Biko Casini of Strut on West African balaphone — a group formed just for LAAFF.

2007: Festival co-creator Michael Mooney sought to break the world record for tall bike riding by mounting a 44-foot cycle of his own design.

2008: Josh Phillips Folk Festival headlined. The same year, the “Get Your Freak On Photo Booth,” masterminded by Jen Bowen, debuted.

2009: Frank Bloom stepped into the role as LAAFF director, the festival teamed up with the then-eight-member Asheville Brewers Alliance to provide a greater selection of local beer; and for those without costumes, Honeypot hosted “Sew Your Own Art Clothes.”

2010: Rosetta Star and Jack Baun married at LAAFF, and the Mooney-invented Big Wheels for Big Kids was introduced.

2011: Stephaniesid, Floating Action, The Secret B-Sides, Sonmi Suite, The Black Rabbits, World Music Elevation, GFE and more performed — and the festival continued late-night with a number of after-parties.

2012: The festival added educational components (Moving Minds Through Movies and Dr. Bob’s Interactive Sonic Experience) as well as a satellite stage and food truck lot on Rankin Avenue and a LAAFF-eve mini-music festival.

2013: LAAFF was cancelled due to a lack of funds. Arts2People board president Paul Van Heden  said, “People put their heart and soul in, and deserve the best possible event, and we couldn’t do that this year. So that’s why we had to put it off.”

2014: LAAFF returns for a final — or not-so-final — run, to be followed in 2015 by a new community-minded festival with a broader scope and footprint.

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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