I can't believe I almost went and forget to tell y'all about this year's event. I'm pretty sure this has been a staple on my blog since I first started it. I may have let my previous weekly features fall by the wayside, but not this annual event. Even if it was one that I almost didn't go to. Almost that is. And it wasn't even a very strong "almost". I knew I would be missing it.
Are there any of the folks who follow this that aren't familiar with I'll Make Me a World in Iowa? If so, let me give you the Cliff Notes version of what it is: an annual event celebrating Black culture in Iowa. Another way to look at it is one big function to help kick off Black History Month in the central Iowa. Either way, it's a great opportunity to showcase all the great things that our people are doing here in Central Iowa.
It didn't dawn on me until very late in the game that I needed to have t-shirts for the event. Not to sell but just to wear. If there was ever an opportunity to get the XL-Images name out there on a broad scale then that was it. Of course, I didn't think of it until the week of. Who was I going to find to get quality shirts done in less than a week's time? That's where The Book came in handy yet again. I got more than a few good suggestions and one great one. I'm pretty sure I have now found my permanent supplies for my XL-Images gear going forward. At least that gear that requires screen printing.
The funny thing about wearing that shirt to I'll Make Me a World is I never expected to get so much adulation from wearing them. Sure, I was expecting folks to inquire about what I was doing and that would be a chance to get them my card so we could connect. What I was getting was folks would see the name and commence to tell me how much they loved my work. Then they would ask for a card so they could call me to set up an appointment. Only time will tell how many of them come through, but it was still a pretty good feeling.
The vendors were all pretty much all the same usual suspects. The heavy hitters that consistently want to put a good front in the community (The Principal, Nationwide, Wells Fargo, etc.) were all there. What I was checking for was the local folks making noise. Like my dude Josh with Jaytees Apparel doing his thing. Only his first year with a table and he was selling t-shirts like hotcakes. Gave me even more inspiration to get my own table next year. Be on the lookout for it.
The food was incredible as always. There were half a dozen food vendors there with the best soul food you could imagine. I could have easily gotten a sampler platter from each of them and called it a day. Not that they all had sampler platters available. Or that I even needed that much food if they did. One thing I do know is now more than ever I am convinced that I HAVE to get to Patton's the next time I'm in Des Moines and looking to eat out. If you don't know about them then you too have been sleeping.
The headliner this year was Shemar Moore. It's obvious what demographic they were appealing too, huh? It's been obvious for the past two years. Last year was Boris Kodjoe. If I didn't know any better I'd say that the folks in charge of getting the headliners for I'll Make Me a World were women. Further evidenced by the fact that the featured performer was Kenny Lattimore. It's as if they book folks that they want to see the most. Let's switch it up a little, ladies!
I will admit that I was impressed with how Shemar carried himself. He could have easily gotten up there and been very full of himself. Much like Vivica Fox was when she came. Instead he was down to earth. Even when he went to flash his abs after SEVERAL requests from women in the crowd he was humble about it. Afterwards, he was more than willing to take photos and sign autographs (for those folks that waited in line). He didn't go into a private room making himself available to only IMMAWII staff like Kodjoe did. Most importantly, Shemar did it all with the attitude as though he genuinely enjoyed being there. Or maybe he's just a better actor than the folks that came before him.
Naturally, I got some some great photos of different moments from the day. I contemplated creating a photo gallery out here but then decided you can better appreciate them in high definition as they're meant to be seen. So you can click on this link to view them in all their awesomness:
All in all, I would venture to say it this year's version was one of the best ones I've seen. Probably because I left early before it was time for the youngsters to start acting up as usual. Or maybe because they had more big names than usual with Shemar, Kenny Lattimore and even comedian Jonathan Slocum. But again, they really could use more input from us guys when getting their entertainment. So next year if they could reunite En Vogue as the featured headliner(s) along with my table just off to the right of the stage then they can count on 2013's version on being an even bigger success.