Valley residents and visitors looking for a final kick of festive fun before the harvest and market season winds down should put the Canal Flats Fall Fair and Artisan Market on their radar.

This year is the third edition of the annual family focused event that began in 2015 as a way to bring the community together following the devastating shutdown of Canfor’s Canal Flats mill, the economic lifeblood of the village, earlier that year. It has since grown into one of the Valley’s hallmark fall festivals and is the closing chapter of the many farmers’ and artists’ markets that run throughout the summer and fall.

“It’s been great for Canal Flats, it’s really been a huge success. The public really enjoys it,” co-organizer Holly Pietrosky told The Pioneer, adding that the fair has grown by leaps and bounds each successive year, and that this fall they hope to attract between 200 and 300 fair-goers.

The fair includes a pumpkin carving contest; a house decorating contest for Canal Flats residents (judges will drive around town to check out all the homes); a scarecrow-making challenge; as well as plenty of kids-centric games and activities (including face painting and temporary tatoos); and an ever increasing number of market vendors.

“Each year it’s become more of an artisan market. People come to do their early Christmas shopping, and we really do now have a vast array of vendors,” said Ms. Pietrosky. “We try to leave it the same weekend, later in the fall and the vendors seem to love it, because at that point they are pretty much all done their summer farmers’ market circuits and have been to all the fall fairs held in late September and early October. They often want to book their space for the following year as soon as the fair is done.”

As a result of its final-kick-at-the-farmers-market-and-fall-fair can timing, the Canal Flats Fall Fair draws ware-peddling artisans not only from the valley, but also from surrounding areas.

“There’s quite a few that come up from the Baynes Lake farmers’ market. We have a lot of vendors from right here in Canal Flats, there’s one from Creston,” said Ms. Pietrosky, adding that there are also, of course, some familiar vendor faces from the downtown Invermere farmers’ and artists’ market and the Windermere Fall Fair.

“It’s a real mixture,” she said, going on to add that, in her opinion, this combination of artisans from many different markets makes the vendors selection at the Canal Flats Fall Fair quite unique.

“What’s also helped us be successful is that the fair is on the same weekend as a big hockey tournament (at the Canal Flats arena) and there are a lot of Calgary hockey parents in town,” said Ms. Pietrosky.

Excitement is already building in the village for this year’s fair, according to Ms. Pietrosky, who works at Martin Morigeau Elementary School, and says students there are already at work creating entries for the scarecrow challenge.

“Come on down and see what it’s all about and how much fun it is, especially for kids,” she said.

The fair will be held in the Canal Flats Community Centre on Saturday, October 21st from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is two dollars per person, but once inside, all kids activities are free.