WATERLOO — It began in 2014 as the Cedar Valley Fashion Week, tripled in size and is arguably now the fashion event of the year in the Cedar Valley.
This year’s Cedar Valley Fashion, Art and Culture Expo, hosted by Apryl Jones from the reality show “Love and Hip Hop: Hollywood,” will be held Saturday at Lost Island Waterpark, 2225 E. Shaulis Road in Waterloo, in order to attract more families and help mitigate COVID transmission.
Thousands of people are expected to attend, with hundreds of designers, models, artists, dancers, photographers, entertainers, vendors and more putting on the annual show. This year’s theme is “Breaking Barriers.”
But beneath the glitz and glamour of Saturday’s events lies the engine keeping it going: SHIPHT (pronounced “shift”), a “youth opportunity accelerator” started by Expo founder Joy Briscoe in 2019 that helps kids prepare for careers in the arts.
“Joy realized there was a core group of children and young adults that really enjoyed this, and that she could really help them to sharpen those skills in that area,” said Kristin Kruse, chief operations manager for the Expo.
SHIPHT, open to students ages 13 through 19, helps students discover and hone passions not only in the arts, but in technical or academic fields as well. Kruse noted the organization partners with other businesses, organizations and the Waterloo Career Center as well, finding their niche by taking underserved populations and giving them a more personalized approach.