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Whistler’s Christmas fair keeps local artisans busy



Bizarre Bazaar becoming a community event, rather than just a craft fair

Local husband and wife artisans, Vincent and Cheryl Massey, are in a whirlwind of dizzying preparations right now.

In just over one week, Whistler’s Bizarre Bazaar is coming to town and they’ve got a lot of one-of-a-kind handmade pieces of pottery (Vincent) and baskets, hats and bags (Cheryl) to make in the meantime.

"Cheryl is in the house right now weaving like mad," said Massey.

"I’m out in my studio with pots everywhere. I’ve got kilns cooling down. I’m going to pack another kiln tomorrow. It’s just full steam ahead here until the Bizarre Bazaar."

They’re not the only ones. Artisans throughout the Sea to Sky corridor and from across B.C. are gearing up for the Christmas rush, but at least 109 of them have their sights focused on Saturday, Dec. 6 for Whistler’s annual craft show Bizarre Bazaar. The event has become a Christmas tradition in Whistler over the past 16 years.

"I’ve been an artist in this valley for 20 years and Cheryl has probably been (here) about 10 years," said Massey.

"We’ve seen the Bizarre Bazaar go from a little thing down at the school that sold cakes and cookies to a full blown craft fair now where they have way more people (applying for booths) than they can handle... The calibre of art is excellent.

"I’ve done craft fairs a lot in B.C... and this is probably one of the best value venues."

Sixteen years ago the Whistler Arts Council developed Bizarre Bazaar as a way to promote regional artisans from the Sea to Sky corridor as well as to bring in artisans from the Lower Mainland and across B.C. to offer some variety to the people going to the craft fair.

It has become a huge success for both the sellers and the shoppers.

This year Doti Niedermayer, executive director of the Whistler Arts Council, said she is cutting back the number of artisans from about 125 to 109 so the event is more manageable for the arts council.

"It just is more manageable for us as the organizing body, but I think also for the artisans to have a little bit less competition," she said.

She said it’s important to support local artists, particularly at this time of the year.

"Really for artisans who are trying to make a living doing this, this is their primary time of the year," she said.

"Around Christmas time is the last time people really shop until the spring, so this is kind of the last hurrah before a very lean time in January and February."