I took advantage of this holiday Friday to check out Circle Craft’s annual Christmas Market (on now until Sunday November 13). Over two hundred artisans from all over British Columbia and the rest of Canada gather under one roof to exhibit and sell their finely designed, high quality wares.
In all the years I’ve lived in Vancouver, this was my first time to go. Since art and design are so much more prevalent in my life these days, I went more to look than to buy. There were many items that were true works of art, such as these handtooled leather book covers from Sandstone Crafts in Salmon Arm. Unfortunately for me, they had the prices to match.
But I was pleasantly surprised to find some old friends whose goods I can actually afford.
Milsean (booth 300) operates out of Aldergrove, BC, where I lived for many years. The old firehall at 264th Street and 29th Avenue is now the family-run factory where they make their famous demerara butter crunch, Leprechaun’s Gold, Blarney Stones, and other delectable goodies. Out front there is a tea and coffee shop, decorated in the same caramel and chocolate tones as the candy – quite simply the best place in town to sit and while away the afternoon.
At Circle Craft today I was pleased to see that they still have the same good deals on their 8-oz bags of sweet things: $25 for three gold foil bags, perfect for gift-giving. They also offer ten of their 1-oz bars in a drawstring gift bag for $15.
Tuscan Farm Gardens (booth 641) was there too, and it’s great to know that their new location in Abbotsford is once again open to the public, with a garden, shop, and soon-to-come bed-and-breakfast. Their handcrafted toiletries, honey and teas are infused with homegrown lavender and other herbs. Tuscan Farm Gardens is part of the Passport to Christmas farm tour in the Fraser Valley, so if you are out that way this November and December, be sure to drop by.
Sweet Thea (booth 312) is a new discovery – most known for her wedding cakes, she also makes tarts, pies, and festive breads like stollen. I bought a stollen from Thea, who advised me that over time, the sugars in the fruit will gradually seep to the surface, making the bread more and more moist. Look for her at various farmers markets and bazaars throughout the coming seasons.
If you have a bigger budget, I highly recommend you try Chocolatas (booth 409). Years ago, Wim and Veve Tas opened their home-based chocolate factory and shop in Abbotsford to my girls’ club. Wim himself showed us how he makes his chocolate and let us taste as many as we wanted. His creations are almost too pretty to eat, but when you do eat them, they literally melt in your mouth, and feature daring flavours like black pepper and Earl Grey.
So if you are looking for some pretty, unique, and relatively inexpensive Christmas gifts, check out these BC-based exhibitors, as well as Manifest Design (booth 500), the Montreal jeweller where my mom bought these beautiful earrings set in adonized aluminum at the Rue des Artistes jewellry fair in the Old Port last summer; and the clever and whimsical photo art at Alphabet Photography (booth 217).
Other attractions at Circle Craft are the live entertainment stage (today’s line-up included highlights from The Nutcracker ballet); a food area; and Totally Amazing Glass live demos.
I’m going to hide my stollen now so it can ripen in peace for Christmas!