Winter Market returns

Franziska Ulbricht (left) and Marie Schmidt serve up fresh and tasty food at the Real Food Cafe at the season's first Winter Market organized by the Hay River Commons and hosted by Ecole Boreale. Photo by Sarah Ladik NNSL

Franziska Ulbricht (left) and Marie Schmidt serve up fresh and tasty food at the Real Food Cafe at the season’s first Winter Market organized by the Hay River Commons and hosted by Ecole Boreale.
Photo by Sarah Ladik
NNSL

Less than a week is not a lot of time to pull together an event like Hay River’s Winter Market, but organizers are up for the challenge.

“Everything has been up in the air,” Franziska Ulbricht told The Hub last Saturday. “Now it’s all about pulling it off, getting everything together at the last minute. But sometimes, that’s when the best things happen, so it’s worth it for sure.”

For the past two years, the market run by the Hay River Commons has opened it’s doors in November and catered to the pre-Christmas shopping crowd. This year, however, Ulbricht said finding a location proved a challenge. The atrium at Ecole Boreale, where the market was originally held, is now dedicated to other projects, something Ulbricht said she has lead to no hard feelings.

“They’ve been very generous for the past two years, so it totally made sense for me,” she said, adding that it was, however, difficult to find a location at the last minute. “I wasn’t too hopeful.”

But then the day-program space at the supportive living facility came up and a deal was struck.

“Things just fell into place,” said Ulbricht. “They told us they would love to have this community event.”

As of Saturday, Ulbricht hadn’t even seen the space, but was confident a market could be pulled together for the upcoming weekend. Although the plan is currently to only host the Sunday market for the five weeks leading up to Christmas, she said there is certainly room for expansion. Crafters tend to drop off after the holidays, but Ulbricht – who also runs the Real Food Cafe at the market – said the weekly event remains a place for people to go at the weekend when chilly weather may prevent other activities.

The Sunday market won’t be the only such event. She Takes the Cake Cafe will be hosting catalogue vendors every Saturday to compliment the market.

“Catalogue sales are surprisingly big up here, I guess because of a lack of retailers in town,” said owner Melissa Beck, whose cafe also serves as a de facto art gallery. “Helping others in the community was always a big part of my business model, so this just made sense.”

She Takes the Cake will also be hosting something of a craft market on Friday night for Midnight Madness, something Beck said was extremely well-received last year.

“We’re going to have those catalogue sales every Saturday for the winter, but I wanted to have something different for Midnight Madness,” she said. “There will be catalogues, but I wanted to make sure there were things for people to buy on the spot for their Christmas shopping too.”

Ulbricht said the collaboration between the cafe and the market is good for artists as well as organizers.

“There’s always this conversation in Hay River that there are no places for artists, but Melissa is doing great at representing artists in the community and giving them a space,” she said. “Now we’re looking at a weekend of artistic venues and it’s nice to draw focus to those venues and to give people places to sell their wares before Christmas.”

-Sarah Ladik