They’ve gone from sharing an outdoor hockey shack to spearheading one of the city’s largest annual craft sales.
Organizers at Jonathan Toews Community Centre (formerly Dakota Community Centre) are celebrating a quarter of a century of craft sale business this year.
The centre’s 25th Annual Christmas Craft Sale will be held Sat., Nov. 3 (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and Sun., Nov. 4 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) at the centre, located at 1188 Dakota St.
"In 1987, we started by sharing a warm-up shack with hockey players and had 20 tables. Now we’re maxed out at 80 tables and vendors on a waiting list," said the sale’s co-ordinator, Karen Irvine, who has been involved with the organization of the event since the beginning.
The St. Vital resident said the annual two-day event — which also acts as a fundraiser for centre programming — now attracts an average of 3,500 visitors.
"It has grown, in part, because we’ve pulled in different community groups," Irvine said. "Members of Meadowood United Church now volunteer and work with me and, of course, there’s the centre’s various hockey and ringette teams. It’s been a team effort through the years."
The growth of the event is also due to an increase in the quality of the products available. Shoppers can now indulge in an eclectic mix of handmade jewelry, knitted and fleece items and decorated cakes, to name a few.
And for the first time this year, there will be a vintage quilt show and sale, to be held in a separate room.
The aesthetics of the event have also evolved. The booths are decorated in red and there will be more than 20 Christmas trees on display, Irvine said.
Judy Bergen — a former vendor and current assistant co-ordinator who has also been involved for the last 25 years — said the sale is one of the largest in Winnipeg, behind the Signatures Craft Show and Sale at Winnipeg Convention Centre.
"We’re one of the largest and well-known and we have people lining-up 30 minutes before we open to get in," she said.
The St. Vital resident said the event has become an inclusive shopping experience and guarantees there will be something to satisfy every visitor.
"The vendors can now bring in shelving, stands and set-up a store space. They can better utilize the space and accent their products," Bergen said.
"And visitors love the tea room there. They can take a shopping break and think about potential purchases over dainties, sandwiches and a cup of tea."
For more information, visit www.dakotacc.com.