Saturday is Market Time in the Klondike

Saturday in Dawson’s Waterfront Park means it’s time for a couple of markets to open for business.

The Farmers’ Market has been running for many years. While it began with growers selling produce, vegetables, garden plants and bushes, it has expanded in offerings to the point where the name might be better rendered as a Vendors’ Market.

These days, stalls offer Tupperware goods, jewelry, snacks, clothing and art, as well as plants and vegetables.

There was some fuss in the late winter when it appeared that the limited number of stalls available had been sold out early and that some long time vendors were not going to get stalls. This turned out to be a mistake.

An older version of the bylaw establishing the site had specified eight stalls, but a newer one had removed that restriction and apparently staff were not aware of that change. So there was the possibility of more stalls.

The question then was where to put them.

The greensward between the inside of the dyke and Front Street also accommodates the landing area for the paragliders, as defined in another city bylaw. Flying from the top of the Midnight Dome, gliding over the town, across the Yukon River, and back to land on the grassy strip just past the market is a popular sport, and actually brings a number of Yukon flyers here on a regular basis, as well as some from farther away.

The paragliding fraternity probably turned up the heat on the local discussion by expressing on Facebook their concerns about losing their space, but the conversation here remained civil and productive, and involved all of those locals who were concerned and wanted to be part of finding a solution.

There were various new site designs put forward. Most involved some version of twinning the available sites. Up to this year, the stalls were all directly off Front Street, leaving quite a bit of open space up next to the dyke.

This year’s set up features a double row of vendors, with an open grassed space between them, making a sort of market village effect that is easy on the eye and offers an opportunity for wandering past the stalls and canopies without being next to the traffic on the street.

This market isn’t the only draw to the area. For the last three years, the town’s picnic shelter has been home to a Saturday Artists’ Market, where local artisans display their goods for sale: pottery, more jewelry, paintings and some textile products. This was initially created by the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture (KIAC) as a spin-off from the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in economic development study.

While this plan was only recently approved, parts of it have been in place now for three years. KIAC ran the Artists’ Market’s planning and scheduling for its first season, and then handed it over for the artists themselves to manage.

The two markets run from about 11 in the morning until the middle of the afternoon. While it would be possible to set up for sales on other days of the week, some vendors have tried this and found that other days don’t seem to work, so it’s likely that Saturday will remain the only Market Day for the foreseeable future.

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