BRIDGETOWN - Despite being a town tradition, this year the Bridgetown O2 Craft Expo felt fresh and exciting, as it was the event’s first year in the brand new school.
Held the same weekend, Dec. 1 and 2, as the community’s Moonlight Madness and tree lighting celebrations, the O2 Craft Expo has become a community staple, and something to look forward to as the holiday’s approach. This year saw 52 vendors gathered in the Bridgetown Regional Community Schools’ cafetorium to sell their locally made candles, knitwear, jewellery, woodworks, holiday decorations, and much, much more.
The New School
“This is my first time here at the Christmas market, and it’s lovely,” said Trudy Inglis, there to sell her handmade knitworks. “I’m very impressed with all the vendors, the positive feeling that you get, and the friendliness. You can leave your table and know it’s going to be looked after by your neighbour.”
Trudy, who is also a BRHS alumna, commented on the new facility. “I’m so happy for the children, what a positive school for them.” She and many other community members had only praise for the building.
Jonathan Marshall, head of the Options and Opportunities (O2) program, saw many advantages to the new space.
“The cafetorium is great because of the architecture. The design of space is unique, whereas in a gym you’re kind of in a box. It’s not as exciting,” he said, also pointing out that the one-level area, with no stairs, made the event more accessible to the community.
“How could you think that this venue would make it anything but better? It’s gorgeous in here,” said Nancy Price, who has been a vendor at the Expo since its first year, six years ago. She sells holiday decorations alongside her sister, Judy Marshall. The pair have two very different approaches, with Judy designing what Nancy calls “the glitzy, glamorous decorations,” while Nancy tends to make her products in more of a rustic style.
“We call ourselves the city mouse and the country mouse,” Nancy explained, laughing.
A Success All Around
Several hundred people came in over the Expo’s two-day span, and it was a success for not just the O2 program, but the Bridgetown Grad’s as well. Together, with Grad President Kristen Foster at the forefront, the Grade 12s organized a silent auction, with 97 prizes to be won, all donated by local businesses from Annapolis all the way to Greenwood. The silent auction made over $1,000 dollars for the graduating class.
This event doesn’t just benefit students, however. Dawn Thompson, who sells J.R. Watkin’s products, believes that the Expo is a great way to make community members aware of their local craftspeople.
“A lot of people maybe don’t know that ‘Gee, my neighbour does this!’ and so it’s a really good way for people to promote themselves locally,” she said.
Bringing People Together
“Our community looks forward to this, we have the tree lighting tonight, we have so many things that tie our community together. Everyone pitches in and it’s all good,” Maureen Publow said, echoing a feeling that all the vendors seemed to share, which is that this event brings the community together.
“It helps craft people who can’t make it to the big city, helps them make a few dollars, and it gets you to meet people you haven’t seen for a long time,” Larry Corneal noted, there to sell wreaths for the Lion’s Club alongside Maureen.
Bridgetown Regional Community School was named so because there were hopes that the building would be a great space for not just the students, but the community as a whole. With another Expo come and gone, and many more events to look forward to, it’s clear that Bridgetown Regional Community School is living up to it’s name.
Elyse Whitman is a Grade 12 student at Bridgetown Regional Community School and works with the Annapolis County Spectator and Annapolis Valley Register.