Winterfest Kicks Off Third Year


1 Winterfest Kicks Off Third Year Pic1
Local vendors show off their wares at the Winterfest market Chantel Todd

Niverville’s Winterfest is about to kick off its third year with a pre-holiday event that is bigger and better than ever. On Saturday, November 18, the town will come alive with a variety of markets and family events geared to ring in the Christmas season. The event is the result of a collaboration between the Niverville Chamber of Commerce (NCC), the Niverville Elementary School Parent Advisory Council, Niverville Recreation, and the Town of Niverville. 

One of the special Winterfest events is the Holiday Shoppes, a one-stop shop for children at the Niverville Elementary School. Here, families will be able to pose for the traditional photo with Santa, buy holiday baking at the Sweet Shoppe, and enter a basket raffle at the Mystery Shoppe. The Elves Work Shoppe will feature face-painting and letter-writing to Santa himself. Finally, the Holiday Gift Shoppe provides an opportunity for little ones to purchase inexpensive items for their own shopping list at this kids-only store. The event, which is growing in popularity every year, is a fundraising effort for student enrichment needs at the school and requires the help of 30 volunteers.

After the Holiday Shoppes, families can enjoy skating with Santa at the Niverville Arena and then take part in the community tree-lighting ceremony in the Niverville Credit Union parking lot. Carolling, hot chocolate, candy canes, and horse-drawn wagon rides will round the day off and send everyone home in the spirit of the holidays.

But another exciting highlight back for the third-year running is the Winterfest Market and Craft Sale held at the Niverville Heritage Centre. Seventy vendors have already registered to sell their wares throughout the venue’s vast atrium and ballroom space.

Dawn Harris, NCC’s executive director, is amped up by the response to this year’s market and craft sale at the Heritage Centre.

“At this time, we have 70 participants with space for more,” says Harris. “Last year we had only the [upper and lower] atrium at the Heritage Centre. This year, we’ve expanded to the ballrooms and the lower atrium, but interest has been so strong that we most likely will include the upper atrium again.”

The Heritage Centre staff go out of their way to provide a beautiful backdrop for the event, Harris says, which is part of the appeal for attendees looking for an authentic, uncrowded holiday shopping experience. The nearby Hespeler’s Cookhouse and Tavern offers a great spot to get lunch and a drink while the family shops. 

Though many of the previous year’s vendors will be returning, Harris is excited to add some unique new vendors to this year’s sale. 

“We have a woodcarver who will be doing some demonstrations,” Harris says. “We also have a number of vendors selling a variety of wood-crafted items, many using salvaged wood. One vendor is selling Christmas ornaments made by the Khutsala Artisans in Swaziland, Africa, with all proceeds going to provide for abandoned babies and children.”

Every vendor, she says, brings something unique to the sale, providing something for every shopper in a variety of price ranges. 

“I am absolutely amazed at the talent and creativity of products produced locally,” adds Harris. “By shopping at Winterfest, or other craft fairs, you are keeping your dollars at home.”

The market and craft sale is where Harris has seen incredible growth. Year one brought in 42 vendors and year two 57. With the potential for over 70 vendors this year, she attributes the positive growth to word of mouth. 

“Word is getting around among both buyers and sellers that the Niverville Winterfest Market and Craft Sale is the place to be, whether it’s to buy gifts or items for everyday use,” says Harris. “I’ve had several people booking space tell me that a friend or relative told them about the event.”

Right now, she says, there is about a 50/50 split between returning and new vendors. Both are important, as shoppers will be looking forward to stocking up on last year’s favourite items but also hoping to see something new.

Harris says that the Winterfest market idea was created by NCC as a way for local businesses without a storefront to gain visibility in the marketplace on an annual basis. Originally, it was intended for local products and services only, but crafters, artisans, and homemade food sellers have since been invited to show their wares, providing a broader opportunity for everyone. 

In order to cover costs associated with renting the event centre and advertising the event, a $2 per person cover fee will be charged at the door for all shoppers over 16 years of age. Harris says there is still room left for vendors interested in setting up a table. The vendor fee is $40 for the space or $45 if a table is required. 

As you and your loved ones enjoy this year’s Winterfest event, be sure to thank some of the many local volunteers who work so hard to make such a fun day possible.

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