LAC LA BICHE - How great would it be to find your Christmas presents, babysitter gifts, something for the teacher, the girl who washes your dog, and maybe a little something for yourself — all crafted by small business artisans, and all under one roof?
It would be an Extravaganza, right?
And that's just what is planned for a one-day sale on Saturday — November 21 at the Bold Center. For the ninth year running the Christmas Shopping Extravaganza will take over the fieldhouse floors offering socially-distanced deals and COVID-friendly finds.
Sponsored this year by Cenovus, the one-day sale starts at 10 and runs to 5, and is free to enter.
"Who's too old or too young for a hot chocolate bath bomb?" — Organizer Bev Tkachuk on the variety of items
Organizer Bev Tkachuk says the event is running under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic — but hopes the values and selection from local crafters, creators and home-based operators will shine through.
"A lot of thought and preparation has gone into the decision to host the event," says Tkachuk, explaining that she asked many of her local and regional contacts in the home-business industry if they would like to have the event. The answer was a resounding yes. "We will have every precaution in place to make it as safe as we can for those who attend and the vendors."
The decision to hold the event was also something that needed provincial approval.
"We have the go ahead from the provincial government," she said, explaining the event as a business promotion rather than a social event. "The government says they are continuing to support trade fairs to help keep Alberta business going. It won't be a social event, it's about financial stability for these people for the holidays."
Show up, shop and shoo
And when Tkachuk says it won't be a social event — she means it. Come in, look at the great deals, buy them — and leave ... please.
"We are asking people to support small business, shop and then leave," said Tkachuk. "I know, I know — it's sad, but that's the way it has to be right now."
Running the weekly farmers' market as well as organizing the annual Extravaganza, Tkachuk knows that it's the smiles and the personal touches — that unique customer service between the producer and the customer — that make these kinds of events popular — but just this one ... hopefully, she says with a smile, "we are hoping we can all respect the rules."
Volunteer groups like the 4-H club, the Lac La Biche Art Club and the Lac La Biche Kinettes are also planning to be at the event. The Kinettes have planned to host their popular COOKIE WALK, and 4-H members will be providing helpful COVID assistance with social distancing, and hand sanitizing.
Tkachuk says she has rented out 140 tables that will be spread throughout both fieldhouses at the Bold Center, giving merchants and shoppers lots of room.
"We know it's tough times, and that's why we are doing it — to let these guys be able to sell their products and for our community members to be able to find great deals and great items locally, without having to got to larger, congested cities."
When asked about the demographics of the sale — touching on the amount of doilies and wool mittens that might be on display, Tkachuk said craft shows and trade markets are incredibly diverse in their products.
"Who's too old or too young for a hot chocolate bath bomb?" Tkachuk asked with a smile.
At the time of the editorial deadline, the Extravaganza was still scheduled to take place. With updates taking place daily from provincial health officials regarding COVID-19 pandemic regulations on gatherings and events, keep updated with www.lakelandtoday.ca