40th Anniversary Studio Fair a Big Hit
Prince George, B.C. – It’s estimated that by the time Studio Fair’s 40th anniversary artisan event winds up at the Civic Centre this afternoon, approximately 8 to 10-thousand members of the public will have attended.
The Executive Director of the Community Arts Council of Prince George, Sean Farrell, says about 3-thousand people attended Friday’s opening day of the weekend-long event, and he fully expected a record turnout for the fair over the course of the three days. There are over 100 artisans on site, according to Farrell “plus we have representatives from our guilds and the Prince George Symphony Orchestra as well, so there’s probably about 115 artists presenting.
Farrell says “It’s our 40th anniversary because it’s also the 40th anniversary of us being at the Studio 2880 complex on 15th Avenue. Studio Fair was created that fall to celebrate moving into the new arts complex and also to create an annual fundraising event in support of the Arts Council. That legacy remains today, this is still our primary fundraiser for the entire year.”
“The first year it was held in the very small, very constrained Jack Bryan room. I wasn’t there but probably there were maybe a dozen vendors and right away it was a success. So Friday when we opened up at 10 o’clock we had a line-up out the building and that suggests to me that there’s a demand for quality here in Prince George. High quality items that are focussed on craftsmanship, that are focussed on being unique, locally-designed sustainable items, things that they could be proud to give as gifts.”
Farrell adds “I think in this day of big box stores and mass consumption being the norm, something like this stands out as being quite different, and you can see that Prince Georgians have a demand for quality and they’re showing up to show that.”
The Laura Fry Weaving Studio has been a Studio Fair fixture for 37 years. Laura (pictured right) says “I actually worked as a volunteer with the fair that was prior to Studio Fair and that was the Professional Women’s Harvest Fair. It morphed into Studio Fair about 40 years ago.”
And Laura says she has witnessed plenty of growth in the event. “A lot of growth, it’s been really interesting to see it go from people who were essentially serious hobbyists to professional craftspeople. The level of quality has resulted in enormous respect for people that make this their profession.”
She agrees with Farrell that people in Prince George have a serious interest in artistic works. “Always has been, I was born and raised here and as I child I took ballet lessons, there was the amateur opera society, we would quite often be included in their performances. The Playhouse Theatre Society, this town has always had a very strong core of arts supporters.”
She believes that an outward expansion of that core interest “is partly a reaction to how much technology we have in our lives and how disconnected we are in terms of being bombarded with information and all of that sort of thing. I think there’s a real urge for people to re-connect with things made by hand, things that are unique that are not factory-produced. I think all of those things factor into that.”
Laura adds an interesting aspect to this growth. “With the university coming in we’ve had a big influx of younger people from all across the country and outside of the country, we have a lot of foreign students at the university as well which has added to the cultural diversity and the interest in other cultures and their arts and music. It’s great.”
A special cake-cutting ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of Studio Fair was held on Saturday morning. Some of the founding and long time members of Studio 2880, including Shirley Gratton and Noreen Rustad, joined Mayor Lyn Hall, Councillors Terri McConnachie and Garth Frizzell, David Black of sponsor Royal LePage, some young students at the Judy Russell Studio and a large crowd of people in the foyer of the Civic Centre for the ceremony. There were two cakes to try to make sure everyone got a piece.
Studio Fair wraps up today with doors opening at 10 am and closing this afternoon at 4.