The spirit of the season is lighting up Waneta Plaza in Trail, where volunteers-turned-elves are transforming the north end of the mall into a Christmas village.
Trail’s IncrEDIBLE Farmers Market presents The Early Bird Christmas Market this weekend, and The Last Minute Christmas Market on the second weekend of December, offering you plenty of opportunity to get your holiday shopping done, even if you’re late to the party.
“Visitors will experience the sights, sounds, and aromas of a Christmas village while strolling the colourful market tents of over 100 incredible make, bake, grow vendors,” explains Gina Ironmonger, Trail’s IncrEDIBLE Farmers Market manager. “This is the largest, most magical Christmas market in the Kootenays — it’s a sensory experience, and you don’t want to miss it!”
Held in its annual pop-up location in the former Zellers, the abundance of diverse vendors have plenty of room to set up and decorate their tents in the 1.5-acre interior space.
“There’s truly something for everyone and every budget,” adds Ironmonger. ”You can literally buy anything you need for the holidays, right down to a tree, a meal, and your holiday outfit.”
In addition to artisanal wares and products, the market touts a farmers' corner so shoppers can fill their pantries and stock up on all the ingredients they’ll need for their holiday feast. Gifts can be wrapped by donation on-site by the West Kootenay Rebels softball team and Mrs. Claus will be strolling the aisles doling out treats. The family-friendly event packs tons of fun for kids, with Balloons by Doreen, Face Painting with Yarnia, a techie gadget craft by The Steam Truck, and a fish pond and activities by the Beaver Valley Pathfinders and Rangers.
Shoppers are encouraged to stay awhile for lunch or a treat in the Café Corner, and take in the festivities and live entertainment from Mrs. Claus’ Lounge. After that, why not visit the photo booth or book a family shoot with the on-site photographer?
“It’s a one-stop shop for the Christmas season. Once you’ve had your fill of the market, there’s even more in the mall,” says Ironmonger, adding that kids can drop off a letter to Santa or visit with the jolly fellow himself, get holiday photos with their pets, and enjoy a variety of live performances.
“I love seeing the community get together like this. When people are at the market, enjoying each other or just acting like kids — with awe in their eyes as they dance to the live music — it‘s just magical,” she says. “I get an adrenaline rush from it! I’m really looking forward to the spirit being high.”
Building on last year’s success, this year’s multi-day event has been met with so much demand that there’s a 40-vendor waitlist, according to Ironmonger.
“I’m passionate about supporting local and I love to see people succeed — the market gives them that opportunity,” she says. “In addition to being a magical time for the community to get together at a truly unique market, I think it's really good for our economy.”
Most vendors are local to the Kootenays, with a couple from as far as the Okanagan bringing wares the area doesn’t currently offer. Ironmonger points out that their marketing package and army of dedicated volunteers help attract quality vendors as they ensure the event’s professionalism.
“We welcome vendors into our community with a hearty and joyful ‘Ho Ho Ho,” says Ironmonger. “This market is successful and delivers every time. Vendors know what to expect and are lining up to get involved.”
Shoppers are invited to fill their stockings at The Early Bird & Last Minute Christmas Markets at Waneta Plaza (8100 BC-3B) on Saturdays from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. on the weekends of Nov. 26 - 27 and Dec. 10 - 11.