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By ALAINA BARTEL
Daily News Staff Writer
It’s the winter counterpart of the Blueberry Arts Festival, and has been for the past 28 years. Opening with a gala reception on Friday, the Winter Arts Faire will feature more than 90 booths filled with vendors and local artists, powered by a squad of volunteers and backed by the Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council.
Guests can expect the same plethora of unique artwork, but there will be a change in venue this year. The three-day event will be held at Saxman Community Center.
“We’re really excited to partner with the City of Saxman and be out at the community center,” said Kathleen Light, executive director of the KAAHC. “We know there’s going to be more parking, which has been a problem at Ted Ferry.”
The exposition will kick off with a gala reception from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday. Tickets will be $5 for the gala, which includes live music by Lush Life.
“This is a chance for people to get dressed up (and) get a sneak peek at what the artists have to show,” Light said, adding there will be food, coffee and tea for attendees. “It’s just an opportunity to slow down after Thanksgiving and really take in the artwork.”
The faire will continue from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday, and from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Sunday — giving guests the chance to peruse various forms of artwork, ranging from pottery to photography and metalwork.
“Some of the photographers’ work has been building up all year,” she said. “It takes a long time to make art pieces. People have been working on these for a long time. Since this one is more of a fine art faire, rather than the Blueberry, which is everybody, it takes more time to build those pieces.”
Light said the faire is a holiday tradition in Ketchikan, adding that all of the artwork is handmade. A few of the booths include Jennie’s Jewels, the Rainy Day Quilters, Bigfoot Pottery, Alaska Mist Soaps, Muskeg Enterprises, Hook Before You Loop and many more.
“Nothing is manufactured,” Light said. “There will be booths throughout the entire building, downstairs, upstairs, in the performing space, on the track around the top — so there will be artists everywhere.”
Additionally, Light said there will be STEAM lab opportunities for young people. Along with STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — they’ve added an “A” for art. She said there will be booths spread out throughout the faire that kids can work on projects related to the five subject areas.
“These are 93 small businesses in Ketchikan, and it’s a great opportunity to do Christmas shopping, support your local artists and see what people have out there,” Light said.
It’s not just Light’s opinion that the Winter Arts Faire makes for a pristine time to do holiday shopping. Chatter about the event on social media earned Ketchikan a spot on Expedia’s Viewfinder travel blog as being among the best American cities for local holiday shopping last year.
Viewfinder “analyzed millions of social media conversations and found the towns talking about shopping local during the holidays the most,” according to last years email from the travel blog’s Communications Specialist Kimberly Deese.
Placing 15th in the list of 25 cities, Ketchikan topped the metropolises of New Orleans, New York, Washington, D.C., Boston and Atlanta. Smaller cities with a similar population to Ketchikan generally fared well and ranked higher on last year’s list.
Although Ketchikan didn’t land a spot on Expedia’s holiday shopping blog this year, the sentiment holds true for years to come.