Tradition in the Time of COVID: The Denman Craft Fair Adapts

Tradition in the Time of COVID: The Denman Craft Fair Adapts

“Ritual and ceremony in their due times kept the world under the sky and the stars in their courses.”
—Terry Pratchett

Rituals and traditions are important. They bring communities together—remind us of our shared values, our bonds, our history, and the richness of our culture. They help us as individuals mark time and create meaning. They are something to look forward to, and to remember fondly. They give our life shape.

Traditions lost

In COVID times, so many rituals and traditions have been lost. The rhythm of time has been scrambled. Weekends are no different from weekdays. The seasons are passing, but our key celebrations are missing. On Denman, the was no Readers and Writers Festival, no soccer tournament, no Fall Fair. School did start, but late, and oddly, fraught with anxiety. Kids didn’t go away to university; they stayed home for it instead. It’s all so disorienting.

That’s one reason why, when it became clear that the Christmas Craft Fair couldn’t happen, the organizing crew determined they had to do something. The fair couldn’t disappear completely in 2020!


The Denman Island Craft Fair on-line artisan directory and the Craft Crawl (see below) may be but a pale reflection of the fair itself, but they do keep this 38-year winter ritual going. Think of them as a pair of candles, keeping the flame alight in the dark times, so that the home fires can burn bright again in better days.

Also, we can think of the Craft Fair as a kind of essential service, because Christmas and other winter holidays will still happen, and we will still want to exchange gifts, and we will still want those gifts to be original, hand-made, and sustainable—and we need a safe, COVID-responsive way to buy them. The Denman Craft Fair on-line artisan directory and the Craft Crawl provide a starting place for your holiday gift shopping.

These initiatives also offer something less practical, but equally important: a sense of continuity, the maintenance of an annual tradition.

Browse and shop from home

Even if money is tight or you might not be in the mood for shopping, we invite you to find a comfortable place to sit, and visit the site. Read about the artisans. Click through the photos and feast your eyes on the colours, textures and beauty of the works on display. Know that this is an expression of community spirit, a strengthening of our connections, and you are part of that. Let this be a ritual.

Or do the Craft Crawl

If your health and life situation are favourable, visit some studios as part of the Crawl. Enjoy this rare opportunity to have a cultural experience. Dress up if you want. Wear a mask with a holiday theme—Christmas, Hannukah, Solstice, or any of the others that light up the dark season. Have a memorable day. Because we need art, we need creativity, and we need traditions.

Visit the site at


The Denman Craft Fair on-line portal offers a central digital location for lovers of arts, crafts, and local hand-made products.

It’s a place to browse and connect to the fair’s many artisans and makers. Each vendor provides information about on-line sales, studio visits, or retail outlets that carry their work.

The Craft Crawl offers an opportunity to visit artisans’ studios in a safe and well-planned way.

On four Saturdays (November 21 & 28, and December 5 & 12) about a dozen Denman artisans will open their studios, with COVID protocols in place. Some are welcoming visitors by appointment only; others accommodate drop-ins, carefully. This is an opportunity for locals and visitors to plan a day of inspirational shopping. Denman cafes will be open with take-out and dine-in options.

Written by Laura Busheiken.
Originally published in The Flagstone, Denman’s Village Voice, November 2020.





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