November always marks the start of holiday craft fair season. When you make the rounds of indie craft fairs, check out St. Albert Place Visual Arts Council’s 37th annual Country Craft Fair, a vibrant event studded with green garlands and twinkling lights.
“We’ve been here since 1986. It’s the one show everyone looks forward to; it marks the start of the Christmas season. The unique fine art, as well as the skilfully handmade crafts are especially important to the community,” said SAPVAC president Deirdre Allen.
About 40 artisans crafting leather, wood, fused glass, beauty products, clothing, embroidery, jewelry, and liquors, will set up shop Nov. 18 and 19 in St. Albert Place rotunda. Further down the rotunda, the W.A.R.E.S. shop will sell one-of-a-kind Christmas ornaments, table runners and placemats.
One of this year’s vendors, John’s Leatherworks, cranks out masks, hats, animals, wallets and change purses both as functional and decorative items. Jen’s Laughing Glass creates low-budget Christmas ornaments as well as pricier sculptural works.
Weaver Helene G Arts and Crafts instead uses her loom to create handwoven products ranging from tea towels, table linens and home décor to shawls, sweaters, and rugs. Meanwhile, Joanne’s Unique Designs focuses on more flamboyant ponchos and bags.
Nobody looking for fresh styles of jewelry will be disappointed. Ivan Rose Jewelry offers a classical style, whereas Denise Beachell’s Crafts by Kokum Nini lay out sparkly natural gemstones and crystals in Indigenous designs.
And White Lightning Distillery once more promises to be hit with its Christmas gin and vodka.
In addition to vendors, the city’s own creatives from St. Albert Painters Guild, the Potters Guild and the Quilters Guild have turned their everyday work studios into glam showpieces of distinctive fine art and artisanal crafts.
Since their spring sale, local potters have worked feverishly on fashioning new goblets, mugs, plates, bowls, trays and even a Nativity. In addition to functional pottery, a series of the more stunning decorative raku ware will be available.
The Quilters Guild has sewn pillows, runners, quilts, and wall hangings, while the Painters Guild will depict assorted winterscapes, animals and florals in watercolours, oils, acrylic and mixed media.
“The ambience of the whole event is electric. It’s warm, welcoming, and cozy. The artists, cashiers and floor walkers are always so friendly and inviting. If you have a question and they don’t know something, they will find someone with the answer,” Allen said.
Prices traditionally range from a modest $5 up to $500.
While no official statistics exist on how many dollars the craft fair injects into the local economy, Allen estimates it is in the $100,000 range. The figure is extrapolated from SAPVAC member earnings.
Although difficult to gauge, Allen estimates 2,000 to 3,000 visitors attended the 2022 two-day fair. The free admission, free parking and Arden Theatre concession makes the fair an attractive choice for savvy shoppers.
“It’s always crazy first thing Saturday morning. But if you want to get first dibs on everything, that’s the time to come. If you want to enjoy strolling through where you can talk and wander, then come Saturday afternoon. Sunday is always our quietest day.”
The fair runs Saturday, Nov. 18 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 19 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at St. Albert Place, 5 St. Anne Street.