Shoppers return to Holiday Market in search of handmade gifts

By Andy Matarrese, Columbian Breaking News Reporter

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The Vancouver Rotary Club’s Festival of Trees event moved to Divine Consign this year, but if that meant fewer shoppers at the Holiday Market, it was hard to tell from the throngs of people perusing the market’s locally made arts and crafts Sunday.

“We miss their presence, we miss that fun atmosphere that it brings,” said Katy Johnson, co-owner of Farm Maid natural products in Corbett, Ore., which has been selling goat’s milk soap, soy candles, perfumes and other products at Vancouver Farmers market events for about a decade.

There was a rush of people to the market, at the downtown Hilton hotel, following Friday’s tree lighting in Esther Short Park, she said, but although the day seemed a bit slower overall, there was still plenty of traffic.

“The weather is good. It’s just good enough that people are willing to get out and about, but not so good that they want to do yard work,” she said. “People have been getting to know this event and that it’s a good quality bazaar.”

Farmers market Director of Operations Erin Timmermann said the market added more vendor space, along with some new attractions including Santa Claus, a tree ornament crafting table and carolers, to fill in for the Festival of Trees.

People were asking after it, though, but mostly out of curiosity, she said.

“Yesterday and Friday were really close, were really on pace with last year,” she said.

A few thousand people coursed through the market, she said, to check out the 115 or so vendors selling at the market over the weekend.

“We finish off the market season,” she said, “and then we have the Harvest Market the weekend before Thanksgiving. And then we do the Holiday Market the weekend after Thanksgiving, so it’s a really busy time of year.”

Vancouver shopper Colleen Storey said she came to browse for possible Christmas gifts.

“This area’s so known for all the vendors and artists,” she said, adding she typically checks out the holiday market in Eugene and Vancouver this time of year.

She had stopped to talk with Camas’ Cindy Cook, who was also Christmas shopping.

One of her favorite artists is Leslie McCray, who runs Sweater Heads out of Astoria, Ore. McCray makes hats by reusing sweaters or other clothing, and Cook said she’s been buying from her for about 10 years.

“I think that’s what attracts me most to this place, is the quality of what they’re selling,” she said. What’s also fun, she added, is hearing the creators’ stories.

“When you see the artists’ eyes light up, their excitement and their joy of producing something like that, I don’t know, it just makes the gift more special.”