By Andrea Arnold, Associate Editor/ Reporter

In spite of the illusion that the recent mild weather is creating, December 25 is fast approaching. As Christmas nears, I am exploring the valley and discovering the many hidden talents and amazing products that residents have to offer in our Local Makers series.

Pottery, woodworking, fibre arts, leather work, aromatherapy, jewelry making and painting are all marketable skills. For some of these niches, there may be several artists, but each artist has their own unique style, providing a wide variety of local products.

I have always loved the atmosphere at Christmas Markets. I make it a habit to attend as many of the local Christmas and craft markets as I can, to see what the valley has to offer. Sometimes I don’t even know I’m looking for a specific item until I see it. This year between Valemount and Dome Creek, I believe there are five markets, starting with Valemount this Saturday on Nov 19. Dome Creek and the Valemount Legion are both on Nov 26th, McBride on Nov 27th and Dunster Dec 3rd. The vendors I have spoken with so far are working hard to make sure they have enough stock for these events. Most of the ones I have interviewed welcome the challenge of a custom order, as long as it is a reasonable request and is received with enough time to complete.

Some items may come with a slight jolt of sticker shock. It is important to remember these artists and makers spend hours on each item. Time spent away from family and friends. They spend their own money sourcing and purchasing supplies. With our rural setting, sometimes acquiring the needed items can come at a cost. I believe that while pricing their products, our local makers aim to find a fair price that allows them to make a bit of a profit while also providing buyers with a locally-made product. 

I think it is important to always support local when you can. I feel like Christmas time is an opportunity to have your dollar reach further than the regular shopping locations and help support the small home-based businesses and entrepreneurs as well.

Check out the Local Maker section of the Goat each week for possible gift ideas as well as our craft fairs.