Janet and Scott Zimonick hold up some of the items they’ll be selling at their booth at the Medieval Market. Scott is holding a “flip flop” — the original product he made to go to gift shops when the couple started selling at craft fairs over 30 years ago. Tara Sprickerhoff photo.

Vendors recall almost 30 years of Medieval Markets

Market known for welcome to artisans

Scott and Janet Zimonick’s connection to the Medieval Market hearkens almost as far back as to medieval times themselves.

Well, maybe not. But their relationship with the market is as longstanding as the market itself. They were vendors when the market originated in 1988 and can’t remember having missed a year since.

Then known as the Cariboo Handmade market, the Medieval Market was held in Elks Hall and had a few dozen vendors.

Today’s market has well over 90 vendors and has morphed into the lively affair we know today, filled with wandering minstrels, a town crier, and lords and ladies from near and far.

In 1988, Scott and Janet lived in Likely without electricity or running water. It gave them a lot of time to construct the pieces that would launch them on their craft fair circuit: Scott would create little wooden games and puzzles, while Janet would use her sewing skills to create different pieces.

“We’ve changed along with the market,” says Janet.

Read more: Come one, come all to Williams Lake’s Medieval Market

Now Scott constructs furniture, although he’s brought back a number of his games this year, and Janet has perfected her skills.

It’s similar, they say, as to how the market has improved.

Shortly after the first market, the organizing was turned over to the library as a fundraiser for them. From there, it was handed to Columneetza who used it as a way to fundraise for school events.

One year, the market almost buckled, with less than 15 vendors showing up.

“A group of crafters, Janet, and myself, saw what was going on here so we got involved with the teachers at Columneetza,” says Scott.

They didn’t want the market to fold.

“They listened and they paid attention. We told them your biggest challenge of all is to get your crafters to come back and to be happy. If your crafters are happy, the word is going to spread.”

Now, say Scott and Janet, the market is known in northern British Columbia, for that exactly: pizza nights and cheese nights for vendors, students who help load market wares into position or runners who pass by during the day to make sure vendors are being fed.

Students volunteer at the event and in return, proceeds go towards Lake City Secondary programs.

It also helps that entry fees are kept low enough they don’t price local artisans out.

“It’s our local show, you do see everybody you know and its a very positive atmosphere,” says Janet.

Scott and Janet add that the ambiance also keeps them coming back.

While it took them several years to buy into the medieval theme, Janet says she now shows up dressed as a queen.

“With the music and then the theme — I don’t think there is any other show that we have attended that has a theme and no shows have music running the entire show. We’ve gone to dozens and dozens of different shows at different venues and no one has live music,” says Scott.

“Now people are coming for the whole experience and not necessarily shopping, but to listen to the music,” says Janet.

Both give kudos to the organizers for keeping the show running so successfully and smoothly.

“We just love it,” says Janet.

“It’s really fun, we have a ball there,” adds Scott.

The Medieval Market runs Nov. 25 and 26 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Williams Lake Campus of Lake City Secondary.

The entry fee is $5 for Saturday, which includes entry all through the weekend, or $3 for Sunday’s fair.

Related: Mountview students fundraising for wildfire victims

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