The Yukon’s exclusive arts and crafts

On November 25, Cranberry Fair will open its doors, once again, for the annual display and sale of Yukon arts and fine crafts, by Elisabeth Weigand.
PHOTO: Darcy Tara (McDiarmid), a YFN artist who will be participating in the 2018 Cranberry Fair

Only two weeks to go until the 2018 Cranberry Fair, when, again, over 40 artists will gather to present the Yukon’s exceptional artistic craftsmanship. On November 25, the doors open for another grand exhibition and sale at the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre, this time in the Long House and the Elders’ Lounge.

New developments this year

Darcy Tara (McDiarmid) art

The Northern Fibres Guild (NFG), the proud founder with over 40 years of successful organization of this event, has reached another benchmark in its endeavour to promote and sustain traditional skills in working with diverse fibres.

Having reached out for a few years to the Yukon First Nations (YFN) arts and crafts community, to work together and present traditional skills and handiworks, the 2018 Cranberry Fair will now portray 49 exhibitors, among whom are four first-time participants in the fair, five YFN members from all over the territory, as well as nine NFG members.

In combination with the Yukon First Nations Culture & Tourism Association (YFNCT) and several independent First Nations artists, the Cranberry Fair saw the need and mutual benefit of working together for a more-inclusive and representative blend of Yukon arts and crafts, thus providing a balanced presentation of what our northern land has to show.

After bringing a YFN artist on-board for this year’s jury selection in August, we made great headway in contacting a broader membership of YFN artists and craftspeople, which resulted in selecting five First Nations artists to participate in this year’s fair.

The executive director of YFNCT, Charlene Alexander, acknowledges the importance of our cooperation as a valuable means for the Yukon arts community, especially the growth of exposure for YFN artists.

“Yukon First Nations Culture and Tourism Association is very excited that the 2018 Cranberry Fair will include a great selection of both traditional and contemporary art by Yukon First Nations artists. The Cranberry Fair is considered one of the premiere art and craft Christmas markets, with a juried collection of high-quality, handcrafted art and fine crafts made by Yukon’s most creative and skilled artists. The inclusion of work by Yukon First Nations artists will be a great addition to this much-anticipated Christmas event and market,” said Alexander.

The Cranberry Fair was able to show, with its high-quality artistic exposure, that it is a functional springboard to kickstart a successful and thriving economic future.

Some of the exhibitors have been in this event on a yearly basis, expressing their confidence in the value of this event. For other artists, this is the beginning of a new road. Tara Darcy (McDiarmid), a nature artist from the crow clan of the Tr’ondek Hwech’in and Na-cho Nyak Dun First Nations of northern Yukon and first-time participant in the Cranberry Fair, has strong expectations.

“I try to capture the profound beauty and spirit of nature in my art. For me, art is all about the relationships, so I would love to meet people who may be interested in my art at the Cranberry Fair,” said Tara, a YFN artist.

Another highlight is the youngest exhibitor, a 10-year-old Yukoner who is well on his way to becoming an astonishing artist. The Cranberry Fair is proud to help him with this.

Location, location, location

The finest venue: At the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre, the fair progressed into a well-known event and embraced history in presenting a successful event. With around 2,000 visitors and a rising number of exhibitors, each year, the Guild decided to book two rooms for 2018: the Longhouse and the Elders’ Lounge.

Moving successfully into the future

In her fourth year as a member of the NFG, and as the fair’s coordinator, Elisabeth Weigand is more than proud of these developments. With the backing of the NFG, as well as support from the Government of Yukon, local industries and countless hours by friends and helpers, along with determined social media efforts, the Cranberry Fair has exceeded its own expectations again.

“Finally, persistence paid off. I was always pleased to see the ever-increasing number of applications and participants [in] this wonderful event. What really honours me is the attendance of our first-time fair participants and the number of YFN artists. I am sure we will not disappoint, but fully meet these people’s expectations and hopes by presenting an attractive and valuable sales event, again,” said Weigand.

Over the years, 2,000 visitors have consistently come to the Cranberry Fair from all over the Yukon and from other parts of Canada, even including a few travellers from abroad.

Not just another pre-Christmas sale

Cranberry Fair is a place where we can meet: fairgoers with exhibitors; presenting artists with visiting artists; visitors with visitors …

It’s a place where we engage: where artists display not only their wares, but insight into their work, their inspiration and who they truly are—where people find not only a gift, but where they hear about the preservation and love for this land.

Here is where we all learn about the centuries-old tradition of working with our hands, of gathering and using local materials, and of weaving a true northern experience into each unique piece—giving it life.

A list of 2018 fair participants can be found on Cranberry Fair’s new website: or go to to “What’s New in 2018” (click on “2018 Fair Participants’’ profiles”).

Elisabeth Weigand is the November 2018 Cranberry Fair Coordinator. Cranberry Fair is hosted by the Northern Fibres Guild.

It’s (almost) that most wonderful time of the year …

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