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Christmas market season kicks off in Bearspaw

For more than 30 years, the Bearspaw Fall and Christmas Market has been providing the perfect venue to get a head start on holiday shopping.
Shopping season
The 36th annual Bearspaw Fall and Christmas Market, Oct. 19 to 21, offers the opportunity to get started on your holiday shopping early by purchasing one-of-a-kind pieces hand-crafted by local artisans.

For more than 30 years, the Bearspaw Fall and Christmas Market has been providing the perfect venue to get a head start on holiday shopping. Featuring a wide variety of products hand-crafted by local vendors, the market has become a popular destination for both residents and visitors. “We’ve got a good reputation, and that brings people in,” said Maureen Unland, who has been co-ordinating the annual market for the past 25 years. “I think we had over 4,000 people last year…. Our attendance has gone up in the last few years.” According to Unland, the market – which is in its 36th year – attracts vendors from across Alberta and into British Columbia, as well as local artisans. However, since the event is juried, Unland said certain criteria must be met for a vendor to be offered a booth at the market. “We don’t allow home-based businesses, like Scentsy or Tupperware, because that’s not a hand-craft, to us,” Unland said. “They have to send in photos for us and I talk to them ahead of time, to make sure they aren’t bringing [their product] in…and putting it through as if it was theirs.” With more than 90 booths each year, though, Unland said there is still always a great variety of products – including homegrown food items, and a range of distinctive, exclusive crafts. While some vendors will come back year after year, Unland makes a point of bringing in at least 20 new artisans to keep the market interesting for repeat shoppers. “Crafts change over the years, but we also always mention to our vendors that you have to upgrade your product or people aren’t going to buy it, if it’s dated,” she said. “People come up with new ideas – if they’re doing birdhouses, they could get to be very fancy birdhouses.” For vendors, the market offers an opportunity to sell their product to an entirely new customer base, but Unland said the event provides an equal benefit to shoppers, who may be looking for just the right gift for a hard-to-buy-for loved one. “People like stuff that’s, let’s say, hand-crafted rather than just home-made,” she said. “Some will have items that are just one-of-a-kind. It’s just more of a personal touch than just going to a store and buying something that probably isn’t even made in Canada. A lot of people like the hand-crafted idea, when they’re giving a gift…it’s a little more special.” Hosted at the Bearspaw Lifestyle Centre, the 36th annual Bearspaw Fall and Christmas Market runs Oct. 19 through 21. Admission is $3, but Unland said all proceeds are donated to support local programs. “We have some lovely vendors here that do really nice work,” she said, adding, “All the money stays in the community.” For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page by searching for “Bearspaw Fall and Christmas Market.”

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