The Circle Craft Christmas market in numbers



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Five numbers behind the Circle Craft Christmas Market, by journalist Susan Lazark:


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Consecutive years, the craft fair took place

The market, November 11-15 at the Vancouver Convention Center West, was first held in 1972 in what is now the East Vancouver Cultural Center.

Yetta Lees, who created block print clothes with her own designs, had previously held a successful fabric festival in Victoria when she was approached by a friend of a friend, Chris Wooten, to organize an exhibition of Christmas crafts in Vancouver.

She said sales of hippie artists were to be “made in places where ordinary people would feel comfortable” and stated “no dope of any kind, no big dogs and no breastfeeding in public”, Thelma Ruck Keene wrote in a 1990 essay on her story. .

Lees and Wooten sent handwritten invitations and worried that no one would come. They were shocked when 500 arrived, and Lees realized she had “stumbled upon a need,” according to Keene’s account posted on the Circle Craft website.


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The show eventually moved to the then empty Net Loft on Granville Island, and later to the former Vancouver Convention Center.


Exhibitors from across Canada exhibiting their merchandise this year


The Circle Craft Co-operative, which calls itself “Canada’s most successful and sustainable craft cooperative” and has a boutique on Granville Island, attracts artisans from across Canada. Most are from British Columbia (213) and there are 40 from Ontario, 28 from Quebec, 10 from Alberta, three from Manitoba and one or two each from Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, from Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Washington State. This year, there are 58 new entrants, which fair producer and former candle maker Paul Yard says “keeps it fresh.” Craftsmen must apply and are sworn by members of the cooperative on the basis of quality and uniqueness. They pay for stalls on the basis of $ 2,200 for a 10ft by 10ft space, and 16 are so-called “budding artists” who rent out the smallest and cheapest booths, three feet by 10ft. three.


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There are more artisans than there are kiosks available because the cooperative cannot develop the fair unless they have an increase in the number of visits, because it is stuck between 35,000 and 40,000, Yard said.

$ 25,000

Asking price of a tapestry, the most expensive item of this year

All items are handmade and range from Christmas stockings for a few dollars to the 15ft by 20ft tapestry by Vancouver artist Sola Fiedler. The trades are grouped into 18 categories, from candles and soaps (13 artisans) and clay work (21) to jewelry (16 fashion artisans, 22 fine artisans), glass (11), leather (8), metal ( 6), wood (12) and visual arts (22). The 26 food stalls offer canned goods, hummus, chocolates, spices, seafood, pickles, garlic, jellies, vinegars, mustards, cheeses, sauces, Christmas pastries, fruits and syrups. Some crafts are unique and expensive creations, but exhibitors sell affordable items. “If you go there without bread and butter, you’re not going to do very well,” Yard said. Some artisans travel the pre-Christmas craft show circuit in other provinces and earn more in those six weeks than they do all year round. “But some are just idealists and they love what they do,” Yard said. “They always say, we’ll do better next year.”


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$ 9,000

Amount donated by the non-profit cooperative to help new artisans


During its 42 years, the Craft Circle Co-op, a non-profit organization, has donated a total of $ 77,187 to co-op members and art schools. This year, it will donate $ 5,000 to its members and $ 4,000 to community colleges to help advance the craft. The co-op reinvests all the money it earns into the co-op, Yard said. The expenses to stage the show include the fees paid to the rental company which supplies the 20 to 25 semi-trucks full of equipment, such as rugs and curtains, that turn “the bare cement bunker into magic. Christmas lights and sparkle ‘in 52 hours. (Teardown takes seven hours.) And they pay minimal hourly wages to 65 mostly retired employees, along with a handful of strong young men, who help run the show.


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On November 11, the show observes a minute of silence

The show is the first of the major craft shows across Canada, but not by choice. About 20 years ago, the Edmonton show chose the first weekend in December for its Christmas market and at the time, Circle Craft was not “strong enough to attract exhibitors,” Yard said. . Organizers chose the weekend closest to November 11 and faced and still face criticism – “I got two emails this year,” Yard said – for hosting it on Remembrance Day because of the disrespect he shows for Canada’s war dead. But “We stop at 11 am and we close our doors. We have a piper and we have our own department. He said the Royal Canadian Legion was “happy with us”.

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