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Kootenay Artisan Fair allows consumers to shop local

For a decade, the Kootenay Artisan Fair has provided a platform for artists and craftspeople to sell their goods to the community around the holiday season. Buying local is one way to reduce our gift-giving carbon footprint. — Submitted photo

Experts stress that consumption is a driving force behind climate change and communities across Canada are experiencing the impact.

As floods recently hammered regions in the province of BC, nearly 200 nations attended the United Nations Climate Change conference in Glasgow, where the proposed climate plan was accepted, to limit the extent of our planet’s warming.

How can we in the Kootenays create meaning this season without over-consuming?

How is this season shaping up when buying gifts from alternative sources, like from local artisans?

The Kootenay Artisan Fair (KAF) is running events for this exact purpose, says Aviva Keely, the fair’s coordinator.

“For the Kootenay Artisan Fair, it’s always been about shopping local and keeping our economy sustainable within itself. It’s reiterated now that we’re facing these crises,” says Keely.

Usually, the KAF runs one large event at the Nelson Prestige Lakeside Resort. This year, due to COVID-19 their capacity is 118 people over two weekends at Nelson’s Rod and Gun Club. People who shop at the fair buy directly from the local entrepreneurs. The fair was previously held for more than 15 years by the Nelson District Arts Council.

Keely is happy with the community support the first weekend, held in late November, with 32 vendors selling products.

“We had a really good turnout, and everybody who came spent money, so that was wonderful," Keely explained.

"We curated to make sure that only local vendors can be there, and they also have to be handmade. The Kootenay Artisan Fair supports money going directly into the pockets of the people making the items.”

How well the community supports these events is a sign of the value of handmade and local in our community, says Keely.

“Since doing the show, I’ve noticed that our community really likes to support each other and likes one-of-a-kind handmade items that are really good quality. The community is there for those vendors, that’s for sure.”

It may be said that there is a culture of supporting our local artisans in the Kootenays. For 21 years, the Baker Street Christmas Craft Faire has provided a wide variety of the Kootenay’s finest crafters and artisans.

The Nelson area is a very creative community, so why not shape our gift-giving around this talent?

Keely stresses that even if community members don’t have money to support local artisans, they can help by liking craftspeople’s social media pages, following them and commenting.

The next KAF event takes place December 10-11.

Keely is excited about the upcoming event. She hopes to see a great turn out again.

“There are so many more artisans here than I had ever expected; they are incredible, some of them are amazing. This (event) is a real opportunity this year to see a whole bunch of new faces.”

Other ideas for gift giving that are climate conscious are giving consumable gifts like cookies, giving an experience like a movie night, or a present of service like shovelling somebody’s walkway.

More than 30 vendors set up shop at the first Kootenay Artisan Fair at the Nelson Rod and Gun Club in late November. — Submitted photo