Walking through the maze of crafts was almost overwhelming, as there were people and vendors everywhere, and anywhere you looked you could spot something that you had never seen before — for example, Greg Morris’ sculptures created completely out of single pieces of aluminum wire, and Dennis Macki’s lathe wood turned bowls.
Besides these more eclectic art pieces, there was also a wide array of more “traditional crafts” such as jewellery and knitted clothing, as well as an abundance of food, from Christmas cookies to Indian curries. This diversity is something coordinator of the event Doreen Phelps noted was important to the event’s success.
“We [look to] put different things in … we have a limit to how many jewellery, and how many sewing, and all that we have,” she said.
Phelps has been a coordinator of the event for over 20 years, and took over when the creator of the market, Peggy Staber, passed away. Phelps has seen it move from its humble beginnings in the now-demolished agriculture building where the Mission Leisure Centre stands today, to one of the most well-attended Christmas craft markets in the Valley. Over the past few years, the market has grown to include vendors from not only the Fraser Valley, but from Greater Vancouver, Salmon Arm, Kelowna, and even Vancouver Island. Phelps attributes the event’s continued growth and success on her and her volunteers’ ability to maintain a community atmosphere, even as the event grows larger.
“We have a very good name all of sudden … I think it’s because we try very hard in communicating personally,” she says, adding that she orefers not to just communicate via e-mail. “We do a lot of personal talking to the vendors themselves, and I think that’s kept it as a more country and community event.”
The Mission Christmas Craft Market is also the earliest in the Fraser Valley, but Phelps doesn’t see that as the sole reason they get over 5,000 attendees a year.
Both Phelps and co-coordinator Shirley Mitchell noted that in the end, the market is meant to be a fun experience, and something attendees will want to come back to year after year. “There are people I have seen here for years and years, and we try to make it so it is friendly, Christmassy, and fun,” she said.
As for the continued growth of the event, Phelps is cautious about expanding the event too much more, as she wants to continue with the eclectic mix of items she has now.
“Sometimes bigger is not always better,” she says. “There is one more hall that we could potentially use, but it would have to be different crafts or different talents than we have now.”