As craft fair season hits Gwynedd at full force, our webmistress muses that they’re a great way to shop locally all year round – not just at Christmas…
Goodness me – is it really craft fair ‘season’ again? It comes around so quickly, doesn’t it? One minute you’re opening sackloads of Valentine’s cards and the next you’re checking the Prynu’n Lleol Gwynedd craft fair calendar to see how many fairs you can fit in before Christmas.
For me, this is a crucial time of year. As a craftswoman I have stalls at craft fairs throughout the year, but at Christmas the activity intensifies to the point where it becomes almost an obsession; not only am I spending most weekends at craft fairs, but often doing evening ones at schools too. And somehow I have to also find time to make the things I’m selling, as well as do my ‘day job’. As for housework… what’s that, exactly?
While building the craft fair calendar it seemed to me that this year there are more fairs in Gwynedd than ever – or perhaps that’s just a matter of perception! There appear to be a lot more school fairs and late shopping events than usual, in addition to the annual ‘big ones’ like Portmeirion, Glynllifon and Hwyl yr Wyl Pwllheli.
The thought occurs that we could all benefit from shopping at craft fairs all year round, not just at Christmas.
Quite aside from the amount of fun these events tend to be (there’s usually entertainment of some sort), the things you can buy at craft fairs in Gwynedd are diverse and wonderful, and very often unique.
Yes, you’ll see lots of things you can buy as gifts, either for yourself or for someone else. But there’s a lot more to buy besides presents. Most craft fairs have a good number of food stalls too, selling everything from olives, cheeses and handmade sausages to jams, artisan breads and alcoholic drinks. Most of these stalls have samples you can try before you buy, and often there are cookery demonstrations too – so a day at a craft fair means an opportunity to discover new ways to shop locally for your groceries and then cook them, as well as new ways to accessorise your home or buy a treat for someone special.
And here’s a little fact that may surprise you: often you’ll see big brand names at craft fairs, being sold by local business owners. Two good examples of these are Usborne Books and The Body Shop at Home. These are both franchises which enable people to start their own businesses selling products that already have an established market – meaning that although you’re buying big-name products, it’s actually a local business that benefits.
Another good reason to visit craft fairs all year round is the amount of good they do for communities, schools and other local organisations. Stallholders can pay anything from £5 to hundreds of pounds for a selling space at a craft fair, and in many cases the proceeds go toward a good cause of some sort. Case in point – a couple of weeks ago I had a stall at a craft fair in Nefyn which was being held to raise money for a local children’s charity. In the space of an hour and a half I’d made back my table fee almost 20 times over, and the charity was £800 better off.
Likewise, the table fees raised at Hwyl yr Wyl will go toward next year’s event. This year there was a free land train, a Santa’s grotto and all sorts of entertainment, all funded from the proceeds of last year’s event. Hwyl yr Wyl brings more people into the town, which means many of the local shops will benefit. The same goes for Nadolig Betws-y-Coed Christmas and other similar events. It really is a win-win situation!
So please, do take a look at our craft fairs calendar and choose at least one to visit during this festive season. Just go along and show some support – you don’t have to buy anything, but just being there shows the organisers there’s a reason to do it again next year. And that’s something that many people in Gwynedd will benefit from, so you can consider it your little Christmas present to the community!