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Finding fairs and wares close to home

by Peggy Miles

Elly Cash, production manager, Right Off the Batt PotteryI’ve decided to partake in the 100 Mile Diet—except I’m going to apply the concept to my holiday shopping this year. That means I’ll be “shopping local” and aiming to purchase gifts, holiday décor and table trimmings that have been produced on PEI.

It’s craft fair season on the Island and what better place to get everything I’ll need for a homegrown holiday season but the Three Oaks Craft Fair in Summerside? It takes place November 6 to 8 and features approximately 150 new and returning vendors. Selection is vast, with crafters filling every nook and cranny of the school.

In perusing the vendors list, I am pleased to discover that there will be lots of great gift items to choose from—pottery, glass art, candles and something called “Walnut Wonders.” I’m intrigued. I am happy to see that well known Island authors David Weale, Julie Watson and Clinton Morrison will be on hand with published works. There’ll also be greeting cards to take care of my Christmas correspondence needs, and fresh greenery, which will really spruce up my home’s interior (pardon the pun). Party preparation will be made easy with fudge, apple cider mix, preserves and gourmet dips. Tip for first time visitors: stop by the cafeteria to find the ever popular shortbread cookies and carrot cake, sugary goodness regular fair-goers are familiar with.

But hang on…I’ve just discovered that the traveling fair known as Ten Thousand Villages is coming to town the exact same weekend. It’s a non-profit organization that works with thousands of talented artisans from low-income countries, acquiring their wares at reasonable prices, and selling them at festivals and community centres across North America.

Will this blow my concept of buying local this year? Well, perhaps. But as much as I think shopping local is an important social and economic practice, supporting the mandate of Ten Thousand Villages helps to bring awareness to important global issues. The organization communicates that it’s all about “commerce with a conscience,” helping individuals from around the world to “be gainfully employed in a job that brings dignity and joy.”

I am familiar with their product offerings, and recommend checking out their selection of world music. They also have funky jewellery, cool hand woven baskets, and chocolate bars that taste like nothing I’ve ever had before.

As a consumer with a conscience, I feel good about supporting both of these events.

Ten Thousand Villages will be set up in Summerside on Friday, November 6 from 10 am to 8 pm and Saturday, November 7 from 10 am to 5 pm. You can check it out right after you finish at Three Oaks, since they’ll be set up directly across from the school at the Summerside Presbyterian Church.

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