Cat Hayward sells homemade soaps and bath products with granddaughter Brynlee West at the Youbou Christmas Craft Fair.

Craft fairs bring out Lake’s Christmas spirit

November has been a busy month in the Cowichan Lake district with three holiday markets in as many weeks

November has been a busy month in the Cowichan Lake district with three holiday markets in as many weeks — the Christmas at the Lake Craft Fair (Lake Cowichan), the Honeymoon Bay Christmas Craft Fair and the Youbou Christmas Craft Fair.

Honeymoon Bay’s fair was held Nov. 19, and had 39 vendors. The community was packed with visitors.

Sharonann Dubé, who has been involved with the market and craft fair for 10 years, was selling pies, cookies and fancy breads this year.

She said these kinds of events are important for little communities.

“It gets folks out,” she said. “We have a lot of artists and it gives them a chance to show their wares and what they’ve done. It’s just a wonderful bunch of folks in this area.”

The fair featured some first-time vendors like Tom Murchie, a mechanic by trade who began doing woodworking projects when he retired. His work includes a wide selection of coasters made from cedar and featuring sections of a large road map of Scotland.

“It’s just something I like to do,” he said. Much of the materials he uses are recycled or salvaged.

Another local vendor was Judith Quinlan, owner of The Cat Hotel. This year she was selling homemade cat beds, fashioned out of old dresser drawers. She has a neighbour with a knack for sewing who is going to make all the pillows and bedding for her.

“We’re going to have fun with it. And I think a lot of my clients are going to like to buy one when they come. So we’ll see. It’s really fun. This is all a retirement business that’s topping up my pension,” she said.

The following Saturday, Nov. 26, was the Youbou Christmas Craft Fair. Attendance was bustling although the second floor of the community hall had markedly fewer vendors than in past years.

The craft fair in Youbou has been going on for generations, and in recent years, Cowichan Lake Recreation has taken the reins in terms of the event’s organization and promotion.

Vicki Ordano, events assistant with Cowichan Lake Recreation and also one of the many artisans selling items that day, said the fair has been going on for at least 70 years. She said the ground floor of the hall is reserved for vendors selling homemade craft and food items, while the second floor is available to home business retailers or secondhand flea market style sales.

Ordano echoed Dubé’s sentiments in Honeymoon Bay about the importance of craft fairs like these to small communities.

“It gets everybody out. There’s been a lot of people in here [and] some people may live in the same town as you, but you only see them when you’re out at things like this,” she said. “I noticed that. There are people everywhere hugging.”

Cat Hayward was attending the Youbou Christmas Craft Fair as a vendor selling her bath salts, soaps and fizzy bath bombs. Normally she just gives her products to family and friends as gifts but this year she decided to come and try selling them too.

“These craft fairs are great,” she said. “It’s a small community and we try to support each other.”