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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Explore the Shore hosts first-ever holiday craft fair

by Kyle Reid

The seasonal shopping spirit was alive and well along the Lake Erie shoreline last weekend, thanks to Explore the Shore’s inaugural Christmas market. The event was held inside the Colchester Community Room on Saturday.

While it may have been the first-ever attempt at a Christmas craft fair for Explore the Shore, a group dedicated to drawing tourists to businesses along the Lake Erie shoreline area in the summer months, but it was a tremendous success. The huge shopper turnout surprised even the organizers.

“It’s just snowballed,” fair organizer Carol Quick said. “We’re thrilled. Twenty minutes before we opened, we had people here from other towns waiting outside.”

Offerings inside the small Colchester Community Room were plentiful, with many handmade treasures awaiting eager shoppers inside. In total, 19 vendors set up shop, and shoppers were shoulder-to-shoulder as they perused the wares.

The brightly lit community room was also a welcome attraction for shoppers.

“Of course, we have the most beautiful view of any venue right here,” Quick said pointing through the window to the expansive Lake Erie shoreline.  “A lot of people just say this is the best spot you can be in.”

Leslie Balsillie, the Explore the Shore Committee Chairperson, said that the new Christmas fair is an effort to expand the group’s efforts out of the summer months and into the holiday season.

The Explore the Shore weekend fair, held every July, has already grown to its tipping point, Balsillie said, and the group was looking to highlight business along the shore, which are open throughout the year.

“We can’t get much bigger, so we figured we’d try a different event and kind of keep the excitement going,” Balsillie said.

In fact, organizers are already planning to make the holiday craft fair an annual tradition. Thanks to this year’s success, Quick said next year, the group will also add a second location, Christ Church, along with more vendors to expand the fair.

“With having both halls and bringing in more vendors, it can be even bigger next year,” Quick said.


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