Perhaps a fitting tribute would be calling it the Howl and Fowl Market this year.
Instead it will simply be known as the 41st annual Juneau Public Market, with the three-day holiday shopping bonanza beginning Friday at Centennial Hall and the Juneau Arts and Culture Center. But Peter Metcalfe, the market’s longtime organizer, said this year’s event is dedicated to Judy Cooper, a former Juneau resident who sold linoleum block art products at the market from 1994 to 2021.
He said Cooper, who eventually moved to Gustavus, also left a visible presence in Juneau in the form of works such as a metal sculpture of a nun feeding chickens at the entrance to Chicken Yard Park, and became a well-known dog musher and breeder before her death in April.
“So one of the things we’ve got going is at least three vendors coming in from out of town who are selling dog-related, pet-related products, Metcalfe said. “They hand-make or manufacture pet foods, as well as harnesses, dog covers and et cetera.”
A total of about 175 vendors are expected, about half of them from 25 communities outside Juneau, Metcalfe said. He said that’s more than last year — and a lot more than 2021 when COVID-19 was still a major factor — but still not back to peak pre-pandemic levels.
“We’re sort of rebuilding from our high watermark, which were 2018 and 2019 when we had about 210 vendors in three venues,” he said.
Indigenous Artists & Vendors Holiday Market returns as companion event
However, from a shopper’s perspective the number of vendors and venues will be near those peak levels, since the Indigenous Artists & Vendors Holiday Market will be returning from noon to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall, which used to be the third venue for the Juneau Public Market. The Indigenous market is hosted by the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, which stated at its website nearly two dozen vendors were signed up a week before the market opened.
Among the featured vendors so far, according to Tlingit and Haida, are:
• Riley Soboleff, 14, and her sister Cora, 12. “Riley knits hats and headbands and makes earrings with sea otter fur harvested by her dad. Cora makes shopping bags from upcycled chicken feed bags and creates earrings,” according to the tribes’ website.
• John Katasse, a commercial fisherman with his father and brothers for 40 years before becoming an underground miner. “To keep himself busy in the winter he began carving and later on he started making his unique jewelry made from gumboot shells, mussel shells, seashells, porcupine quills and unique beads and stones from bead shops and markets from his travels.”
• Stephanie Nylen, her daughter Dylann, 9, and Stephanie’s mother Cyndy. “Dylann (who will turn 10 next Saturday) started drawing as an outlet for anxiety. Stephanie turned her pieces into Cricut projects, putting vinyl decals on glasses and plastic cups. Cyndy retired a few years ago and now watches her one-year-old great-grandson full-time. In her retirement she started sewing again and make tote bags, bowl cozies and knitted hats.”
“One of the most well-attended events anywhere”
The vendors at the Juneau Public Market also are widely diverse in their backgrounds and crafts. Metcalfe cited Todd and Annie Fritze of Dillingham as one example, noting they make the 1,000-mile trip to celebrate Thanksgiving with their daughter and grandchildren who live in Juneau, and sales at the public market — where they’ve been vendors for 14 years — help pay for travel expenses.
Another is first-time vendor Virginia Lynn Peterson, a Providence Hospital nurse in Anchorage, who makes casual wear for women based on what she has found comfortable in the course of a strenuous occupation.
One person who won’t be a vendor is Metcalfe, who tried and eventually gave up that aspect of the market.
“One year we did some public market t-shirts and I had those for seven years or more,” he said. “It’s not my forte as it turns out. What I do well is organizing events. So I gave up trying to sell anything — they’re like competing with my customers and vendors.”
Metcalfe said most of the out-of-town vendors end up at the public market during the busiest shopping period of the holiday season due to word-of-mouth from other vendors.
“These are professional vendors that are coming in from out of town that they’re in a lot of shows,” he said. “And when you’re in a show you’re talking with each other. So that’s how they learned about it. And there’s no amount of salesmanship I can do that will convince somebody to pack up and come down here as somebody who’s been here.”
Metcalfe said attendance at the public market is “sort of confidential,” but estimates it’s equal to about 20% of Juneau’s population — which according to a recent report was 32,000 in 2022.
“It’s a three-day mark and not just individual people,” he said, adding “on a per-capita basis we may be one of the most well-attended events anywhere. If it was up in Anchorage there would be 75,000 people.”
• Contact Mark Sabbatini at firstname.lastname@example.org or (907) 957-2306.
Know and Go
What: Juneau Public Market
When: Noon to 7 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Where: Centennial Hall, Juneau Arts and Culture Center.
Admission: $10 to Centennial Hall, children under 12 free. No admission to enter the JACC.
What: Indigenous Artists & Vendors Holiday Market
When: Noon-5 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
Where: Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall.