By Nashelly Chavez The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, Calif.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) On Saturday afternoon, more than 700 people from around the country convened at the DoubleTree hotel in Rohnert Park, for what was advertised as the area's first ever "Sonoma Slime Fest."
The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, Calif.
Holding a clear tub of lavender-colored slime in one hand, Santa Rosa resident Gabby Garcia, 10, used her other hand to dig two fingers into the gooey product, resulting in a tiny toot.
Standing beside her in the hallway of the DoubleTree hotel in Rohnert Park, Garcia's neighbors Madi and Keelyn Walker, 14 and 11, molded and squished their own containers of the glue-based sludge.
"It calms me down," Garcia said, eyes focused on the plastic tub. "All I do is play with it."
The three friends are followers of the latest online trend known as slime -- a product usually made by combining glue and the boron-based compound known as Borax. Beads, food dye, glitter and scented oils are usually added to create different textures and color combinations.
On Saturday afternoon, more than 700 people from around the country convened on the hotel for what was advertised as the area's first ever Sonoma Slime Fest.
Ricky Waite, a Santa Rosa teen and incoming freshman at Cardinal Newman High School, said he coordinated the event after hearing about a meet-and-greet between two slime-makers and deciding he wanted to host a similar gathering closer to home.
"I thought that was so cool but it was on the other side of the country, so I couldn't have gone to it," Waite said. "I thought, 'I kind of want to do something like that.'"
Waite began making slime with a friend in seventh grade as a hobby, and the two eventually started the Instagram page RL Slimes to showcase their creations. The account garnered 1,000 followers within a week of its inception and has grown to almost 90,000 fans since then, he said.
"Some people say it's oddly satisfying," Waite said, who now runs the page on his own and began selling his slime online. "So, they use it to poke it, squeeze it, crunch it, and it makes all these satisfying noises."
But others seek out slime for therapeutic reasons, with Waite saying the goo can help relieve stress and social anxiety.
That's the case for 19-year-old Ryan Speert, who said online slime videos, which usually consist of someone playing with slime, create what's known as an autonomous sensory meridian response, or ASMR. Researchers have described the sensation as pleasant or relaxing feelings in response to audio-visual triggers, such as tapping or whispering.
A search of ASMR on Instagram can conjure up videos ranging from someone slurping noodles to pulling apart bread.
"It's certain sounds and when they fold the (slime) colors over together," said Speert, who drove from Los Angeles to attend the festival. "It creates a therapeutic feeling."
As the slime-fad continues to grow, several young entrepreneurs are hoping to make a profit off their DIY creations.
Saturday's event included booths from roughly 30 slime vendors, as well as 15 "celebrity slimers" that boast a following of at least 100,000 people on social media.
Slime Yoda, a vendor with close to 600,000 followers on Instagram and an Etsy account that counted roughly 7,700 sales as of Saturday afternoon, had a line of about 50 people within the first 30 minutes of the event.