Powassan reinvents annual Christmas craft event

·3 min read

COVID-19 was not about to stop Kathie Hogan, events coordinator at 250 Clark in Powassan, from holding the annual Village Christmas Craft Sale.

In its first two years, the event took place at 250 Clark, where 32 crafters set up shop for one day to sell their wares.

However, Hogan says the phenomenal success of those two years has made it impossible to again hold the event at 250 Clark.

“People would be shoulder to shoulder,” Hogan says of the crowds of people who came to the community looking to buy potential Christmas gifts.

With the event being a major public draw, Hogan says it isn't likely social distancing rules could be maintained at one location.

After giving the problem some thought, Hogan came up with the idea of running the event over four consecutive Saturdays at eight locations in and around the Powassan area.

Each of those eight sites, Hogan says, will feature one artisan who is replaced with another crafter each of the following Saturdays.

Hogan says the event will still feature 32 crafters, the only difference being the public will see them over four weekends instead of one day, as well as at eight locations.

Hogan says it took her only one weekend to convince crafters to take part in the revised format and adds she has a waiting list of others hoping to secure a site if someone cancels.

As for the types of crafts available to the public, Hogan says there will be stained glass, knitting, weaving, soap products and pottery.

One of the artisans taking part is Karen Hall of Powassan, who operates Loon's Nest Pottery.

Hall is the featured crafter at Home Hardware during the first Saturday of the sale.

Nature-related themes adorn Hall's finished painted pieces.

Her works include casserole pans, mugs and plates.

“Most of what I do is functional pottery,” Hall says. “It's things you use around the house.”

Hall says she keeps her finished products unique by varying their sizes, she stays away from making sets and she adds her initials to the bottom of each finished item.

“Each pot is unique and adding my initials lets people know that it's been handmade,” she explains.

“It wasn't made by a machine but with love and care. I make things that I love and hope other people want to have (the items) in their homes.”

Hall is a former education assistant who switched careers after the birth of her first child.

She had already taken a crafts and design course at Canadore College during the 1980s, and about 10 years later she decided to get into pottery full time after dabbling in it off and on.

Using the money she had put into her retirement pension as an education assistant, Hall bought her potter's wheel and kiln that fires up all the pottery she produces.

After decades of making various pottery, Hall makes the craft look easy.

It's not.

She says it's a difficult skill to learn in the beginning. “But once you've learned, it's like riding a bike and you never forget.”

In addition to Home Hardware, the sites to feature an artist each week are Powassan Flowers, Jojoz, JMI Design Studio, Krause Feeds, Rip and Stitch, Alderdale General Store and Trout Creek Feed store.

Hogan says the artisans are mostly from the Powassan area, but others are coming in from Sundridge and Mattawa.

As for the public, Hogan says the annual event brings in visitors from North Bay, Sturgeon Falls, Mattawa and Parry Sound just to name a few communities.

Each craft sale runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with the first scheduled for Nov. 28 and then continuing for the first three Saturdays in December.

Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget