Katharine Wellard, the driving force behind the annual and ever-growing Judo Club Christmas Market, says even though her grandkids aren’t involved with the club anymore, she has no plans of handing off the reins to someone else.
This year’s market took place this past weekend as part of the annual Campbell River Christmas Gift Tour – as it has every year since its inception.
“I started this up eight years ago, and it’s just been so wonderful to have been a part of,” Wellard says as the vendors begin packing up their various offerings on Sunday. “I just wanted to see if I could help them out a bit, and it’s turned into something amazing that’s been growing and growing and now people really look forward to every year.”
The market has at least doubled in size since it started, and has only been gaining in momentum.
“The first year, I think we had less than 20 of us,” she says. “It was very small, but everyone was very enthusiastic to be helping the club. It’s grown every year after that. This year was probably the busiest one ever, but then again, we had amazing weather this weekend, and we’ve had some pretty crappy weekends in the past, weather-wise.”
The vendor fees (a table booking cost $60 for both days) all go towards funding the judo club, the concession was open – popcorn and coffee and hot dogs by donation – there were judo students and teachers selling raffle tickets and circulating the market making sure everyone had everything they needed, and there wasn’t a frowning face to be seen anywhere in the building. Everyone was happy to have been supporting a good cause while showing off their wares.
The Campbell River Judo Club was formed back in 1966 by James Ramsay, who retired from the Victoria Police Department to move to Campbell River to work at the mill and start the dojo after falling in love with the community when he came for for a visit. Thousands of students have gone through the various programs at the not-for-profit club over the years.
“It’s all run by volunteers, they have students who compete internationally, the club supports the John Howard Society and the youth there, and they keep their fees to get into the club so minimal for families so it’s affordable, people save their judo outfits to pass them on to others who may not be able to afford them,” Wellard says, “there are just so many examples of why this club – and the people in it – is such a wonderful thing for the community. I’m happy to be able to do my part to put this on to support them.”
This year’s market saw 44 tables of vendors set up in the club. There were people selling everything from hand-knitted critters, hand-hammered jewellery, handcrafted wooden spatulas and cutting boards, scorpions and spiders made of beads, ornaments for your tree, painted wine glasses for your table, gourmet toffee, homemade marshmallows and more.
“I’d just like to thank everybody who came out to support the judo club,” Wellard says. “From the vendors who came to show off their wares to the people who came to shop from them, just a big thank you to everyone and I know that we’ll be seeing most, if not all, of you again next year.”