Turner’s Christmas at the Coliseum- Dec. 2009
“It is like a dream come true!” says Andrea Leger about her fifth year renting a booth at The Turner’s Christmas at the Coliseum, “I feel so blessed to be out there – and every year I want to do a little more”.
Leger started four years ago with apples and apple products (jams, jellies and honey) in one booth but now has five booths offering everything from chocolate to seafood. “We will be doing a lot of things ‘hands on’,” says Leger, “for instance, someone will be making apple sauce out of an old food mill, and the chocolates will be made on site and another woman will make baskets”. You can also order a live lobster for Christmas delivery.
Leger says her crew, The Yuletide Market, is like a “like a traveling village” and consists of a collection of farmers, crafters and business people from the Cocagne area. A handmade sleigh piled high with apples will be the centerpiece, and the exhibitors will be dressed in costumes, demonstrating crafts, giving out samples and breaking into song when the spirit moves them.
“We just want to welcome people the best we can, and offer the Christmas spirit that is so important. I think in some ways people are beyond gifts at a certain point, and it is about the gift of giving part of your self that is so important,” says Leger.
Leger’s desire to bring something local and homespun into your Christmas shopping day struck a note with Greg Turner, who with his wife Claudette has been running the Turner’s Christmas at the Coliseum for twenty-two years. They like to promote cottage industries in New Brunswick and give small businesses and artists a place to shine.
The beauty of a show like this, says Turner, is that “each and every exhibitor has a totally unique item that they sell, a truly one-of- a kind creation, and in these challenging times I think a lot of people want to make sure that their Christmas shopping is unique. A hand produced, hand crafted gift has a lot more meaning to it”.
The Turners, who also produce three other large trade shows in Moncton and Shediac, put their hearts into the Christmas fair. “It is enjoyable work, especially the arts and craft part of it – the public is very appreciative of the artists work and their creativity, and the artists are very proud of their accomplishments. So it is a nice environment and the people we work with are very talented”.
Turner says about eighty to ninety per cent of the 360 booths consist of arts and crafts, (in which he includes foods as an art) “Arts and crafts are really the strength of the show and the food is always popular, some exhibitors do give samples – like fudge, peanuts, cupcakes, chocolate or apples. And a lot of spices, things to cook with, oils, dips and sauces”.
About ten per cent of the booths are devoted to antiques and collectibles, and this year for the first time, Magnetic Hill Winery, who applied for permission from the Liquor Board, will be offering their products.
There will be musicians performing through out the weekend, such as the ever-popular organist, John Sands, a South America group playing pan flutes, and a choral group performing a Christmas pageant.
This year there will be eighteen registered non-profit organizations or community groups at the show. “We give a special rate to community groups”, says Turner, “that are trying to raise funds, and/or awareness, for a particular cause”.
The Turners know how it feels to raise money for a cause; Christmas at the Coliseum began “over two decades ago as a fund raiser for a junior hockey team that my wife and I were very involved with” says Turner, and grew year by year into the massively successful show it is now.
The first day is always very busy, “To avoid the long line ups it is possible to buy an admission ticket online before hand”, says Turner. But the coliseum, with its 2000 free parking spaces, is well positioned to accommodate a show of this size. On Saturday, many east coasters plan ahead of time to include an afternoon at the show and evening at the Santa Clause Parade in downtown Moncton.
Greg Turner is always looking for ways to improve the show. “You have to keep thinking about new and different ideas. Like a couple of years ago we lowered the lighting in the building itself to make it a warmer atmosphere and encouraged the exhibitors to add lighting displays and it gives it a real Christmas village feeling now”.
With exhibitors from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland, the show is very popular with the independent artisans. Says Turner, “We get a lot of artists looking for new markets and we are very fortunate that the reputation of our show is strong, and exhibitors tell exhibitors to do this show”.
Andrea Leger agrees, “Mr. Turner is a gentleman and always well spoken of, he gives an opportunity to those of us who can’t afford stores. At the show, you can meet enough people to have your own little home business. It happens for many people, some people work all year just for this show”.
Leger remembers bumping into Greg Turner five years ago and telling him, that she was working at a horticultural farm. “He said, ‘Apples! That has been a dream of mine – people coming to the show and finding displays of apples!’ So that is how it all began. We started with one booth and then a booth and a half, and then two. This year we have five! So it has transformed itself into the “Yuletide Market”, says Leger.
She enjoys having the entrance booths. “Our booths are as soon as you come in, at the entrance. In fact, that is where many people discovered the Honey Crisp apple, at the Christmas Craft Show. We were one of the first to have that specialty apple”.
The corner booths are also popular; exhibitors want to be where they feel there will be the most traffic. According to Turner, “A lot of the exhibitors want to make a commitment for the next year while they are at the show, because they want to maintain their positioning. The customers get familiar with where they are located and look for them the next year.”
22nd Annual Turner’s Christmas at the Coliseum
November 27th : 2 pm to 10 pm
November 28th : 10 am to 9 pm
November 29th : 10 am to 5 pm
Moncton Coliseum Complex
377 Killam Drive, Moncton, NB
Students, Seniors and Military: $5.50
Children 12 and under: FREE
* To avoid line-ups buy tickets online at the Turner’s Christmas at the Coliseum website.