Vendors bring craft and tradition to InuvikLabour of love behind wares at busy, friendly fair
Northern News Services
Thursday, November 24, 2016
The Midnight Sun Complex was packed as people came from around the region to sell their wares, meet up with old friends and reminisce about their childhood at the 2016 Christmas Art, Craft and Gift Fair last weekend.
Agnes Jones shows off her beaded high backs for sale. She grew up trapping in Aklavik but now lives in Edmonton. - Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo
Agnes Jones, born in Aklavik but now living in Edmonton, was selling beaded high backs, many made from muskrat hides.
"My mom taught us how to do this kind of sewing," she said.
"We used to go out in the bush every spring and we would trap from March until June the fifteenth," Jones said.
"We'd trap and hunt for muskrat. That was our livelihood. We tried to get enough to last us through the year."
She'd skin the muskrat hides and put them on a stretcher to dry. From there, she'd bunch up to 50 in a pile and take it to the store, where she'd get anything from 10 cents to $2 per pelt.
Her family would dry the meat and bones and split the food between themselves and the dogs.
Jones doesn't trap anymore, but she still works with animal hides.
"Young people of today, learn what you can about history," she said. "Pick it up and start working. You'll be so busy (you will be) keeping out of trouble."
Bev Garven had a wide display of quilted products for sale, from microwave pot holders to table runners, baby quilts and cuddling-on-the-couch quilts.
On her table were thousands of hours of work, she said. Just the previous night, she had spent five hours finishing up some table runners, and she was still adding the last touches to them at the fair the next morning.
"For a full-size quilt from start to finish, (it takes) probably 30 hours plus all the costs of the materials," she said. "It's not a cheap hobby!"
Organizer Elizabeth Kolb said the three-day fair, hosted by the Great Northern Arts Festival Society, exceeded her expectations.
"I think there were a lot of happy artists who had a good weekend both visiting with each other and also making money," she said.
"Everyone was happy and they appreciated the space, the food, each other and all the nice artwork."
Fair attendance numbers were not available at press time, but Kolb said the Midnight Sun Complex was full all weekend.
"I got a lot of feedback that people were pleased about the number of customers and people there," said Kolb.
The GNWT Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment contributed funding for the event.