Franziska Ulbricht is happy to be back at the Hay River Winter Market, once again running and cooking for the Real Food Cafe.
“At the end of last season, I was getting tired,” she said. “But I was happy to get up to come here this morning. It’s such a nice setting and it’s always such a good atmosphere.”
Almost a dozen vendors and a far greater number of shoppers came out to the first Winter Market of the season, hosted at Ecole Boreale on Nov. 3.
The market got its start last year as both a social and small-scale business rendezvous, and became something of a winter version of the popular Fisherman’s Wharf outdoor market in the summer.
This year, Ulbricht said she hopes to see even more vendors come out to the weekly event. She believes its growing status as a Sunday destination will serve it well in that respect.
By 11:45 a.m. on its first Sunday this season, there were already a good number of people in attendance.
“They usually come later,” Ulbricht noted.
She said the market sees an average of about 10 vendors per week, often familiar faces, but with a few new ones sometimes thrown into the mix.
After the great success of the one time the market was held on the Hay River Reserve last year, the organizers hope to host it there once a month this year.
Ulbricht noted that there’s a bit of a boom before Christmas when people are out selling handicrafts and gifts, but that it tapers off after the holidays.
“It’s really encouraging,” she told The Hub. “There are already different vendors here from last year and people were asking me about how to get a table long before the market was open. I think it has been established in people’s minds and that will make it easier to grow as a community group.”
The market is the main outlet of the Hay River Commons Co-operative Ltd., of which Ulbricht is a founding member. The idea was to come together as a community to share food, ideas and goods, as well as help foster a small-scale local business community focused on sustainability.
Daniel Probst of Daniel’s Swiss Baking has been making tasty European-style treats for shoppers for over a year, but has recently stepped up his work in his business.
“The market opened up and I had no work,” he said. “I tried it out and I liked it. It’s an awesome experience and there’s a good setup here.”
Furthermore, he noted the Winter Market has become somewhat of a Sunday event in town, a day on which not much else is happening.
“It’s new for many of us,” Probst said in reference to the vendor experience. “It’s good that, if something comes up, we can talk to each other and see how the other is handling it.”
Ulbricht said the sharing of ideas is one of the main features of the market.
In fact, the seeds for many of the current developments in local agricultural policy and the small-scale economy were sown at last season’s Winter Market, she said. “It’s just a great place for people to come together, eat, share, and talk about ideas to make Hay River better.”
— Sarah Ladik