Carol Wright

Carol Wright

Upcoming Juan de Fuca craft fair as homegrown as it could be

Seniors Centre gets jump on the region’s busy Christmas market season

With Halloween done and Christmas the next major shopping holiday looming, residents will soon start looking for ways to find those unique, often handmade gifts.

Craft fairs spring up around the region to meet demand, but one of the first on the calendar is always the one put on by members of the Juan de Fuca 55-Plus Seniors Centre. This weekend (Nov. 5 and 6) marks the 28th annual fundraiser sale for the Colwood-based organization.

“We want to be one of the first on the block, plus the weather’s better for people getting out and about,” says craft fair committee chair Carol Wright.

Shoppers will find items created by members of the various craft groups that are active at the centre, such as woodworking, ceramics, lapidary artwork (polished stones and gems), knitting and sewing, quilting, the bake table and more. A dozen or so private vendors, who are also centre members, will be selling their own creations.

Enthusiasm for this event, which expanded to two days from one back in the early 2000s, has grown over the years, despite a brief slowdown in 2008 during the economic recession, Wright says.

“The tables went on sale at 8:30 one day and they were all sold by 8:40,” she says of this year’s demand for the private vendor spots. Also encouraging, she says, is the fact many of those tables were snapped up by new centre members.

As this is a major fundraiser for the centre, the balance of the 25-plus tables will be stocked and staffed by member craft groups raising money for the facility’s operations, while private vendors sell their goods for personal benefit. A strict set of vendor guidelines includes a key rule that all items on sale be made by the members.

One exception to the member-made rule at the Juan de Fuca Craft Fair is the popular Loonie Bin sale, where every item sells for $1. People donate new or gently used items to the bin in the centre lobby through the year – “that tie you don’t like or the toys your kids don’t want to play with anymore,” Wright says. A crew of “elves” were slated to start wrapping the items last weekend to be ready for the fair.

“I’ve been told there’s a local business that buys 20 or more of these items for their office gift exchange,” says centre publicity spokesperson Evelyn Schumacher.

Adds Wright: “If you want the Loonie Bin, Saturday is the day to come.”

Organizers are expecting a good turnout for this year’s fair. Wright and her fellow volunteers did some advance marketing in late August and early September, dropping in to area seniors residential facilities to help arrange bus trips down to the Juan de Fuca Centre for residents.

While personal and household gift items will be popular, food, as with most celebrations relating to Christmas, is a staple of this annual event.

Not only will the kitchen be open to purchase meals, snacks and beverages during the fair, the bake sale table is “huge,” Wright says. “I don’t know how many hundred people are baking this week getting ready for the fair.”

Stop by the Juan de Fuca 55-Plus Seniors Centre at Westshore Parks and Recreation, 1767 Island Hwy., this Saturday or Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information on the centre and its activities, visit