What’s Behind the Vendor’s Fair at the North Dundas Parade of Lights?

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This year, there’s more need for vendor and craft fairs to be held than ever before, because so many of them have been canceled due to the pandemic. There is also more need for caution than ever before when holding one! Martha Malatesta has organised the Vendor Fair for the North Dundas Parade of Lights, this year called the North Dundas Display of Lights due to implementing strict Covid-19 protocols.

Some of the vendors at the 2020 Vendors Fair at the North Dundas Display of Lights are returning from previous years, others are new to the Fair this year. In the summer months, Martha contacts the vendors from the previous year, asking if they will be returning. Some do, and some do not. This year some couldn’t because of Covid and health risks. There are always new vendors with exciting products to add to the fair. Forms, payment, and other administration trickle in via mail and email over a couple of months.

Tables cost $15 to rent, which is very affordable, and a nice break for vendors, artisans, and crafters this year, when getting products to their customers has been extremely difficult. Martha sends out confirmation emails when all forms and payment has been received. She receives many questions, some vendors cancel, some new ones come on board. She keeps the fair fresh, and allows no duplicate vendors. The application and registration form is a full three pages; but this year there are new rules surrounding Covid-19, and screening questions have added a whole other level of bureaucracy. Martha sent out a final email this week with reminders, FAQs, and information about the strict Covid-19 protocols. The Vendor Fair has hosted 50 vendors in past years. This year the limit is 32 to allow for distancing.

Admission to the Vendor Fair is always free, but donations to the Food Bank are encouraged, either in goods or money. North Dundas Display of Lights toques can be purchased at the Fair for $10, with proceeds going to the Display of Lights Committee. They are high quality toques with a fleece liner.

The night before the fair is a busy one. Martha sets up tables and labels them, then maps out the space. She is careful to space similar vendors apart, but also has to accommodate allergies, sensitivities, physical requirements, barriers, and impairments, as well as power outlet needs. Inevitably, there is a last-minute cancellation to fill. High school volunteers are on scene early to help haul craft and vendor goods, greet people at the door, accept donations for the Food Bank, checking on bathrooms and garbage, counting guests, decorating the hall, delivering receipts to the vendors, making sure there’s music, and anything else that pops up! This year Martha’s husband will be playing Christmas songs on his saxophone on the stage behind a clear barrier.

The North Dundas Display of LIghts, and the Vendor Fair will welcome guests from outside our community. We are ambassadors for our area, sharing information about our town in hopes that they will stay, dine, shop, and return. We hope that their experience of North Dundas is a positive one.

In 2019, we welcomed 574 guests into our Fair. This year there is a limit of 50 people allowed into the hall. Please wear your masks!

Please support local small businesses in our community. Visit the North Dundas Vendors Fair at the Joel Steel Community Centre above the Winchester Arena, 577 Main Street, Winchester, on Saturday December 5, between 9 am and 4 pm. You may have to wait a few minutes to get in, but it will definitely be worth the wait!

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