With a new location, the annual Balzac Christmas Market has found a way to expand despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These are trying times,” said organizer Jodanna Frebowski-Chitwood. “This is a great opportunity to keep much-needed income in the community.”
According to Frebowski-Chitwood, the market has occurred in some form for more than 20 years. Historically, the event has taken place at the Balzac Community Hall but this year will be hosted at Gym 4031, which shares a parking lot with St. Mina Coptic Orthodox Church and is located one kilometre east of Costco in Balzac. This year, a change in venue will not only accommodate more vendors but also ensure everyone involved can enjoy the day as safely as possible.
“This is double the size of the old venue,” she said. “We can comfortably fit over 40 vendors.”
The new venue is not the only change, according to Frebowski-Chitwood. With the market occurring in the midst of increasing COVID-19 cases, a lot of extra work went into planning the event.
“From day one, I have been extensively researching the guidelines to ensure this event can safely proceed,” she said. “My full-time job is as a registered nurse in an emergency department in Calgary. I take these protocols very seriously.”
Her nursing background has been advantageous, she said. As the event’s sole organizer, it has allowed her to plan and strategize where issues might arise. Sanitizing stations, mandatory masking and other guidelines will be in place for the market.
A wide variety of vendors will provide something for everybody that plans on attending the free market Nov. 21, which will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“Our focus hasn’t changed,” Frebowski-Chitwood said. “The market still showcases small-business vendors with mostly handmade or directly sourced products by the owner. Most of these vendors started their businesses out of their home and the market is their storefront.”
She added some vendors are still working on getting their products online, so selling at the Christmas market basically equates to storefront exposure.
“One of the initiatives that I have with the market is to ensure there is product variability, and you are not going to see similar products over and over,” she said.
Christmas décor, woodworking, baking, apparel, knitting and jewelry are just a few of the categories of items shoppers can expect to see at the market.
“There is so much, and things you may not commonly see from a big-box storefront,” said Frebowski-Chitwood.
For more information on the event, visit Balzac Christmas Market’s Facebook page