by Faye Dobek
Looking for something interesting to do on a Saturday afternoon? Look no further than the Watson Lake Farmer’s Market held at Historic Mile 635 in the famous Watson Lake Sign Post Forest.
Every Saturday from noon until 2 p.m., you can visit with resident artisans as you browse through the tables of locally made and harvested products. Taste some local fireweed honey; find out how chaga is harvested for tea; learn about essential oils and their many health benefits; try bannock; take home some wonderfully delicious baking; or purchase a hearty, home cooked lunch. These are just some of the local wares available for sale.
An extensive line up of northern musicians provides entertainment for those visiting the market.
Sit down around the gazebo, in the heart of the Sign Post Forest, and enjoy the toe-tapping, live music from performers such as Gerald Edzerza and Uphill and Still. Arts in the Park has been an integral part of the Watson Lake Farmer’s Market since the market’s inception in 2013.
“I loved being able to provide a place where all artists and entrepreneurs, young and old, would have a place to show their work that was a fun and good experience,” says Corrine Zozula Cole, long-time vendor and organizer of the market for three years. “I never charged a fee, as it is a huge learning curve to have the confidence in yourself and your products to sell. Most markets or festivals I have been involved in require a fee to enter. In some instances, you might not sell enough to cover the fee. When you are starting out, that can be very discouraging and you might feel like a failure, even though your work is awesome.
“Some days are good selling days and some are not. I wanted to inspire people to just come out and give it their best shot and stick with it. It was awesome watching the vendors gain confidence with each market. If they didn’t sell anything, they still had a great day in the park with a beautiful view and great live music. Everybody also left with a smile.”
Traditionally held at Wye Lake Park, organizers and vendors are excited about this new location in the Sign Post Forest. Marie Wilson, the originator of the Arts in the Park component to the market, comments, “as for the Sign Post Forest, I think that is a fantastic idea as well! There is a nice area inside the forest – both for tables and seating for people. I also like the idea that it will be that much more visible to tourists.”
At The Sign Post Forest location, the collection of old machinery used to build the Alaska Highway adds an authentic historic atmosphere to the vendor tables set up around it. It also provides an excellent opportunity for children to explore. Picnic tables offer the perfect location for locals and visitors alike to meet and visit or just sit and enjoy the afternoon.
“It was started because we felt it would be a great way to bring the community together, showcase talents within the community and of course, fresh food!” Wilson says. And it continues today.
Anyone wanting to have a table at the farmer’s market need only show up with their own table. There is no charge for vendors or visitors.
For additional information, or as a musician who would like to perform at the market, please contact Meaghen Kimmitt at (867) 536-8023. Watson Lake is approximately a 5-hour trip from Whitehorse, south on the Alaska Highway, being approximately 440 km from Whitehorse.
Faye Dobek is a writer based in Watson Lake.