Bizarre Bazaar returns with holiday fun

Annual artisan fair runs Nov. 28 and Nov. 29 at the Whistler Conference Centre

It’s been a busy few months for Becky Lane.

The crafty Whistlerite has been preparing for her first Bizarre Bazaar this weekend, where she will be among the over 100 local vendors selling baby toys, quilts, napkins and other crafts from her new business, Making Lane.

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Lane turned her creative hobby into Making Lane at the beginning of the summer, expanding on her already existing bakery business, Baking Lane.

Like many artisans, her business grew from a passion. After making baby quilts for a couple of friends with new arrivals, the delighted moms suggested that she sell them. “I also made my niece loads of toys — balls and ring toys — people seemed to like them and started buying, so I decided to do the market,” she said. “I’m really excited.”

Lane specializes in personalized baby quilts, examples of which will be on show this weekend.

Lane is a typical new Bizarre Bazaar vendor, with her small and expanding home-grown business. There are lots of new applicants each year and a jury selects new vendors based on quality, price and diversity, said Doti Niedermayer, executive director of Whistler Arts Council (WAC).  Other new artisans joining Making Lane include Original Mexican Gourmet, Mountain K9, Moonglo Creations, Heidi The Artist, and Gallantry Cards.

Bizarre Bazaar is Whistler’s largest holiday artisan market — and longest running. “It’s the market’s 27th anniversary this year,” Niedermayer said. “It was inaugurated in 1988; it’s one of Whistler’s oldest mainstay cultural and community events. It’s had over 100 artisans since the beginning and has always been a very popular show over the years since its inception.”

Around 5,500 to 6,000 people attended last year, a figure that has remained steady for many years, Niedermayer said.

Well-established local artisans will of course be vending, including Vincent Massey, Vanessa Stark, Nonna Pia’s Gourmet Sauces and more. Goodies include holiday decorations, artwork, knits, paper goods, artisan foods, clothing accessories and much more. “Bizarre Bizarre is always a mix of returning artisans that are well loved and people wait for; can’t wait to get their products and we always interject some new folks to make sure the market stays interesting and vibrant,” Niedermayer said.

Vanessa Stark has sold her colourful, mountain-inspired art at the market for over 10 years. “I love it — it’s always nice to be in Whistler; everyone’s excited, usually the mountain’s just opening it’s always a really fun time of year and you see lots of people you know,” she said.

With the “buy local” movement gaining popularity in the last few years, Stark said it’s seemed busier the last few years. “A lot of people want to support local artisans and buy local, there’s a real movement happening there. A handmade gift always means a little more; plus you’re supporting that person.”

Bratz Biz, young entrepreneurs in elementary and high school will be there, as well as entertainment for all ages including family favourites Ira Pettle, Matthew Johnston’s balloon creations, face painting from Paint on People, live music and carols, photos with Santa and food from the Alpine Café.

“The atmosphere is a very vibrant, busy, warm, exciting artisan market with a lot of local people, entertainment — it’s like a Christmas party in November! It’s comfortable, warm accessible — it’s very friendly — it’s one of my favourite community events where the community shows up, you can go, hang out, have a coffee, listen to music, look at beautiful artisan works, buy a couple of things — you can spend $5 or $5,000 — it really is a friendly, no pressure community event,” Niedermayer said.

The market takes place on Saturday (Nov. 28) from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. and on Sunday (Nov. 29) from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m at Whistler Conference Centre.

Entry is by donation, which goes to WAC for providing other community events throughout the year. Volunteers are still needed, contact WAC at 604-935-8410.

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