Samuel Sheakley, Sr., works on a silver piece at the Native Artists Market in the Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall in Nov. 2014.

Samuel Sheakley, Sr., works on a silver piece at the Native Artists Market in the Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall in Nov. 2014.

At public market, a new song and dance

  • Wednesday, November 25, 2015 9:21pm
  • NewsLocal News

The Juneau Public Market and Native Artist Market won’t be the same old song and dance when doors open because this year there will actually be song and dance.

Public Market organizer Peter Metcalfe said this year’s event, which begins at noon Friday at Centennial Hall with additional booths at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center, will include “quite a few appearances from groups serenading and entertaining” shoppers, including cello to acapella groups.

“We have a little more entertainment than we’ve had in the past,” he said.

That’s not to say there won’t be plenty of vendors and items for sale that can only be found in Alaska. In that regard, not much will change.

Metcalfe said 170 vendors will be present at this weekend’s public market held Friday through Sunday, about a third of which didn’t participate in 2014.

About half of the vendors are local, with the rest spread throughout Alaskan communities as far away as Shishmaref, a city of about 560 people that sits 126 miles north of Nome on Sarichef Island in the Chukchi Sea. The event also will include artisans from Ohio, California, Washington and Oregon.

“This is your only chance to have a wide selection of made-in-Alaska products and meet the artisans themselves,” Metcalfe said, adding that socializing is every bit as much of the experience as shopping. “… Like anybody else, I see people I haven’t seen all year.”

Another thing unlikely to change since the event began in July 1983 in a single ballroom at Centennial Hall will be the crowd.

“A long time ago we reached the glass ceiling,” Metcalfe said. “We’ve always been full.”

But he has a few suggestions for those who want to attend the market but not be caught up in the crowd: show up a few hours before close Friday and Saturday, or wait until Sunday when there’s half as many people.

The Juneau Public Market began in 1983 as a way for local artists to showcase their work in a similar fashion to Seattle’s Pike Place Market in Seattle, Metcalfe said. In its first year, the market was only in Centennial Hall’s Sheffield Ballroom, but “there were so many people in the lobby they had trouble opening the ballroom doors,” Metcalfe said. “You know you’re onto something good when that’s a problem.”

In 1991, the market expanded to take up all of Centennial Hall, and in 2005 it took over the JACC just across the parking lot.

Weekend admission to Centennial Hall is $7; entry to the JACC is free. It will be open noon to 5 p.m. Friday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Metcalfe said those wanting to participate in the 2016 Juneau Public Market should contact him by June or early July at the latest when “chances are 100 percent increased” to reserve a spot. For contact information visit

Native artist market

Across the street from public market at the Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall on Willoughby Avenue will be the second iteration of the Native Artist Market. Its hours have changed to match those of the public market.

Myrna Gardner, business and economic development manager with the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, is hoping to draw the same kind of crowd as public market.

“It kind of fluttered in and out” in 2014, she said. “This year I think it’s going to be a lot different” thanks to THCC’s social media campaign.

The Native Artist Market, which is free to enter, will have 20 vendors on site this year.

“We have some from Metlakatla, Kake, of course here in Juneau, and we’ve got an artist coming from Haidagwaii” in the Queen Charlotte Islands in British Columbia, Gardner said. “(Attendees are) going to be able to find a gift that is an expression of love for that individual and which is unique to them, and which you can’t find at a box store.”

A few artists to be featured this weekend are Haida weaver Dolly Garza and Carol Feller Brady, author of “Through the Storm Towards the Sun.” Gardner said attendees will be sure to see lots of clothing, bead work and custom stockings, too.

“I’m constantly amazed when I see different designs or clothing and jewelry,” she said. “I’m astounded by their creativity.”

The Native Artist Market also will have its own entertainment. The Juneau-Douglas and Thunder Mountain high school jazz bands will perform Saturday and Sunday, and the All Nations Children Dancers, a local youth dance group, will be there fundraising and selling fry bread. Gardner said it was important to THCC to include nonprofits and other groups into the fray.

“Because this is a tribal enterprise, we’re supporting other nonprofit organizations,” she said. “This year we selected All Nations Children, but there are other worthy nonprofit organizations too. … We’re going to continue this partnership of helping other entities.”

Gardner said a donation was made to the high school jazz bands to assist with their travel costs in exchange for booking their talents.

“For us, this is a smaller version of the public market,” she said. “For artists, it’s another way of identifying who they are and what tribe they’re from, and having the ability to use all of our resources gives them a broader audience and potential customer base.”

Gardner said THCC will begin thinking about next year’s market starting in January. To learn more call (800) 344-1432 ext. 7121.


Juneau Public Market

Centennial Hall ($7) and the JACC (free)

Noon to 5 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Native Artist Market

Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall (free)

Noon to 5 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

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