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JUNEAU - The 25th annual Public Market - an opportunity to get started on holiday gift shopping - starts today at Centennial Hall and the Juneau Arts & Culture Center.
About a third of the 149 registered vendors this year are new to the event, according to Peter Metcalfe, president of Metcalfe Communications Inc., which has sponsored the event since 1983. And he expected more vendors by the time the event opens today at noon.
"Because of numerous doubling and tripling of vendors in one location, I estimate 175 vendors total," he said. "So it is safe to say we have more than 30 percent new vendors."
The event runs from noon to 8 p.m. today and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Dubbed "The Best Christmas Show in Alaska" by Metcalfe and his co-workers, the Public Market draws people to sell wares from the lower 48 states and all over Alaska - Anchorage, Cordova, Haines, Fairbanks, Eagle River, Kake, Ketchikan, Kodiak, North Pole, Palmer, Petersburg, Sitka, Wasilla and Wrangell.
"It is a boast we feel comfortable with, considering how many times we've been told this by our many professional vendors who attend similar events all over the state," Metcalfe said. "Our vendors are very impressed with the people of Juneau, their friendliness and enthusiasm."
The market will change its annex this year from the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall to the Juneau Arts & Culture Center, where there will be about 40 vendor spaces. The hours for the annex will be the same as at Centennial Hall.
"Previously, we staged the annex as a one-and-a-half day event at the ANB Hall, where this year a separate event organized by ANB Camp 2 is sponsoring an Alaska Native Arts & Crafts fair," Metcalfe said. "These people are friends of mine and I intend to urge people attending our events to check out the ANB Hall."
The annual Native Arts & Craft Fair will take place next weekend, 4:30-8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5, and noon-4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6, at the Juneau-Douglas City Museum.
Metcalfe also noted that most of the Public Market's employees will be young adults.
"They are well paid - it's not about saving money," he said. "More than a few people have told me years later how much they appreciated the opportunity to work the Public Market. (It's) often their first job and the first time they were given adult-like responsibilities."