Now that we’ve survived the season’s first blizzard, St. Albert is transformed into a post-card worthy winter wonderland awaiting the holidays.
The wintery landscape signals the upcoming Christmas season, a time to celebrate tradition and remember the generosity of family and friends with a gift.
This year more than ever, crafters, artisans and food vendors depend on Christmas markets and craft shows to stay in the black. Unfortunately, many regular events across the province have been cancelled or scaled back due to the COVID pandemic.
COVID has failed to dampen St. Albert’s annual indoor Christmas Market. The holiday spirit is alive and in robust health as 130 crafters, artisans and vendors will display their wares every Saturday from Nov. 21 to Dec. 19 at the Enjoy Centre.
“Start making a wish list,” said Jennifer McCurdy, outgoing president and CEO of the St. Albert and District Chamber of Commerce, the market’s host organization.
In 2019, the Christmas Market was held in the lobby of St. Albert Place. But the lobby was only large enough to feature 75 vendors at any given time and visitors were tightly packed in narrow aisles.
“This year, we are able to accommodate nearly double the vendors at the Enjoy Centre. Even with large numbers, we will have 10 feet of space between booths and we have wide corridors for people to walk through. We’ll be controlling the number of people in and out, and we’ll be maintaining physical distancing.”
The centre of good cheer will feature regional handicrafts and local delicacies plus a whack of original gifts for family and friends.
Expect to discover art, baby items, clothing, home décor, jewelry and personal care items as well as wine, beer and distilled brews. Preserves, meats and multicultural meals are also on the ticket.
“This year, we even have produce. This is our first year at the Christmas Market with Steve and Dan’s. At our previous location, we didn’t have the room for fruit and produce vendors,” McCurdy said.
The St. Albert Chamber is also using the market for two fundraising initiatives for the St. Albert Food Bank and the Salvation Army.
One initiative asks small business to sponsor a decorated tree for a small fee of $150. After costs, the chamber will donate $100 from each tree to be split equally between the food bank and the Salvation Army.
The chamber also requests visitors bring non-perishable food for St. Albert Food Bank and a new unwrapped toy for the Salvation Army Toy Store.
“The toy store is an interesting place. It allows parents or grandparents to come in and choose a toy they know their child will want. If a stranger wraps a toy, it may not be what the child wants.”
McCurdy hopes to make the market a relaxed shopping experience for all visitors and vendors alike.
“St. Albert has always been generous and supportive of artisans and vendors. They’re very excited about showcasing items and they look forward to seeing everyone.
The six-week Saturday market is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 101 Riel Dr. There is no admission and ample free parking.