Christmas Crafts & Winter Markets

November 2019

Tallin, Budapest, Strasbourg, Vienna. Winter Markets and Christmas Craft Fairs are booming all over the world, sometimes transforming tiny European towns into prime tourist destinations. Thunder Bay is no exception, and eager shoppers have a wide selection of local events to tempt them into the festive spirit.

“At a craft show, people can learn about (and purchase) pieces of art from the person who made it,” says Lisa Ferris, Digital Presence Chair for Artisans Northwest. “And it becomes something they understand and enjoy – a treasure that came from their city.”

And there are treasures galore to be found in the many Thunder Bay regional craft shows and winter fairs. I asked Maelyn Candace Hurley, Executive Director/Founder of the Craft Revival, what she thought was the reason behind the continuing success of craft shows like hers.

“I think people are looking for unique items,” says Hurley. “They value the hard work that goes into handmade products, and love being able to meet the makers and learn about their skills.”

In other words, it’s the human connection.

“I think people enjoy seeing art associated with the people who make it,” says Ferris. “It brings art to an accessible place, very human, and often so associated to our environment, so something that can be shared with others who live here.”

“We have such a talented art community in Thunder Bay and surrounding area,” says Hurley. “And the connections between the makers and the shoppers is instrumental to the growth of these unique small businesses.”

Events such as these aim to showcase the region’s talented artists/craftspeople, and each of the shows have lives of their own. Foundational organization, Artisans Northwest, celebrated its 44th year in 2019, while the vibrant and unorthodox Craft Revival is celebrating its fifth. There’s clearly room for all manner of shows, for each has its own personality and style, and they’re changing to reflect a new, younger generation of shoppers who are looking for something very different.

“Artisans Northwest started in 1975,” says Ferris. “And it’s gone through many changes over the years, reinventing itself with each change. I think this form of retail is having a resurgence because the artists, some of which are a new generation, are trying existing techniques and moving forward with them, making something unique.”

Unique, One of a Kind, Homespun, Bespoke. That’s very appealing to the younger generation, and there is clearly a difference from big-box stores or online giants like Amazon or Ebay. With the ease of making purchases online, I wondered how craft fairs and winter markets worked to accomplish the same goals and capture a younger, hipper, perhaps ‘hipster’ market.

“I think, again, community is key to keeping events like the Craft Revival thriving,” says Hurley. “Markets provide the platform, but a lot of the work is the networking that goes on through personal interaction and social media. Having a refined social media presence is key to capturing the younger audience.”

“Winter markets, summer, spring markets – they will continue,” says Ferris, “And they will grow and change format to suit the desires of the shoppers. I think both in-person and online sales will thrive for different reasons.”

And I can’t wait to buy my Christmas treasures from local folks this year and enjoy getting into the festive season as I do. Because, after all, Christmas doesn’t just mean ribbons and tags and boxes and bags…

“Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas... perhaps...means a little bit more…”– Theodor Seuss Geisel, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Heather L. Dickson is a photoshop guru, zoologist and author of 6 novels.

Visit her website at

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.