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Prince Edward Island’s longest running Christmas craft had a different look but offered the same holiday spirit to eager shoppers.
The P.E.I. Craft Council’s annual Christmas fair celebrated its 56th anniversary over the weekend, and the council’s executive director, Ayelet Stewart, said she was confident it would go again this year, despite the pandemic.
“I always thought we could pull this off,” she said. “The only time I was hesitant was while waiting for (host Delta Prince Edward) to confirm that it’s a go ahead, but they, too, went into it feeling confident that we can make it work.”
In following Health P.E.I. guidelines, the 41 vendors in this year’s fair were separated into three rooms and had to be six feet apart. They also had to limit the number of people managing each booth (depending on size), wear a mask at all times and offer hand sanitizers. Those selling food were not allowed to serve tasting samples.
The council also had to triple the number of its volunteers, in order to obtain contact information for COVID-19 contact tracing and keep a count of the number of customers in each room (a maximum of 50 people).
“We got a lot of positive remarks about how well managed and how much more impressive it was as it was laid out better this year with all the extra space around each booth,” said Stewart, who was among the local artisans at the fair with her Ayelet Jewelry Designs.
And with almost all of the Christmas fairs being cancelled this year due to the pandemic, people came out in large numbers to this year’s craft council event, especially on Saturday.
“All our vendors, every single one, said business was the best ever and has broken sale records from previous years.”
Arlene MacAusland of Twisted Knickers, who also helped organize the fair, said Saturday was a busy day for her.
“This will be my only fair this year, compared to the four selling events I usually do in a year,” she said. “I am pretty excited we were able to work with the Delta and Health P.E.I. to move forward and pull off our 56th Christmas fair.”
Stewart and MacAusland said the pandemic was tough for their respective businesses.
“It was hard this year and very discouraging as most orders got cancelled,” said Stewart.
Said MacAusland: “In the 19 years I have been crafting, I do not think there has been a single year where things go as planned. This spring I closed my retail shop that I operated from my home, I did not sell at the Charlottetown Farmers' Market this summer and my consignment sales and wholesale orders with other shops were cut drastically.
“On a positive note, 2020 has given me time to reflect and focus.”
MacAusland said she participated in the Creative Obsessions craft exhibit currently on display at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery and continued to sell online, by email and Etsy, as well as locally at the craft council’s retail gallery on Water Street in Charlottetown.
Stewart said she will be at the Charlottetown Victorian Christmas outdoor fair, Nov. 27-29, and the Charlottetown Farmers' Market's Sunday Christmas craft fair in December.