Annual UAA Crafts Fair: A meeting of talented Alaskan artisans

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Child admires wood toys by “Toys by Tom” at the UAA Crafts Fair, Dec. 6 in the Student Union. Photo by James R. Evans.

UAA’s annual Crafts Fair took place Dec. 6 in the Student Union. The event, hosted by Commuter Student Services, was filled with people of all ages perusing booths manned by local craft vendors showcasing and selling their creations.

Crafters, quilters, artists, woodworkers, jewelers and skilled laborers gathered to showcase their products. During the fair, vendors had an opportunity to sell their products to the public and generate publicity for their crafting and artisan businesses. Photographers, soap makers, candy makers and painters stood side-by-side, turning the Student Union into a unique bazaar of Alaska-themed gifts.

The fair’s turnout was large this year. Vendors and craft enthusiasts were able to see a wide range of local artisans’ works. The Crafts Fair produced enough foot traffic to keep Subway open for the day.

According to Student Union Manager Michael Jurasek, setting up for the fair was a 12-hour process.

“Within the first hour of the fair opening, we had 1,500 people through the door,” Jurasek said. “You almost couldn’t walk around there were so many people.”

Eskimo artist Ken Lisbourne sold prints of his paintings, depicting stories from his village.

According to Lisbourne, his paintings are more than just works of art, and they help keep younger generations from losing touch with their Alaska heritage.

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“I like to tell stories through my paintings,” Lisbourne said. “Heritage and culture is important to keep passing on.”
In order for vendors to be eligible to set up a booth, their items must be handmade, non-commercial and made from raw or basic materials. Booth sharing is not permitted and each crafter must stay present at their booth throughout the entire fair. Vendors whose products are sold at large commercial stores are not qualified to participate in the fair.

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UAA Crafts Fair customers leave the Student Union Dec. 6 with their Alaskan purchases. Photo by James R. Evans.
The Student Union was filled with vendors and customers Dec. 6 for the UAA Crafts Fair.
The Student Union was filled with vendors and customers Dec. 6 for the UAA Crafts Fair. Photo by James R. Evans.
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Vendors share quilted cat beds at the UAA Crafts Fair on Dec. 6 at the Student Union. Photo by James R. Evans.
Vendors sell handmade wooden bowls at the UAA Crafts Fair on Dec. 6 at the Student Union. Photo by James R. Evans.
Vendors sell handmade wooden bowls at the UAA Crafts Fair on Dec. 6 at the Student Union. Photo by James R. Evans.