2019 Busy Hands a true ‘community’ Christmas show

STAYING BUSY- Busy Hands organizers Bay Woodyard and Vicki Emlaw at the 2019 Busy Hands Show at Highline Hall. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)



It was a busy weekend for Busy Hands.

Hundreds of hurrying shoppers looking to score that one unique and hand crafted gift in Prince Edward County flocked to Wellington’s Highline Hall Saturday and Sunday to attend a craft show that started 19 years ago in a farm house in Black River and has now grown to a capacity unimagined back at the turn of the century.

Busy Hands is the brainchild of Vicki Emlaw of Vicki’s Veggies and Bay Woodyard of Honeypie Herbals fame.

The pair developed Busy Hands as a solution to an end-of-year glut of product and a last -chance sale to make money before Christmas.

“A lot of what we do is very seasonal and we work our behinds off during the summer,” Emlaw told the Gazette. “This time of year, we have a little bit of down time, the money is not always coming in so Busy Hands is a huge opportunity for us and the enthusiasm from the public is really great. People come from all over the area to support these local businesses and it really helps.”

Vicki Emlaw and the 2020 Sexy Carrot Calendar. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

“It’s become a way that we can make it a little further into the winter and it also connects people and a lot of folks will develop partnerships and collaborate and work together going forward from this show and it’s good in that way well,” added Woodyard.

And the spirit of the season and sense of camaraderie amongst the vendors isn’t lost on the show attendees either.

“It’s like a big, weekend-long Christmas party for us,” Woodyard laughed.

Since its early days, the Busy Hands show which features vendors and producers who work and live in exclusively in Prince Edward County  has had many incarnations and scopes and has continuously evolved.

With every inch of the Hall and the adjoining multi-purpose room utilized and a waiting list of vendors, it appears Busy Hands is…really busy.

“We’ve definitely ran out of room. If there’s a bigger space, we are interested. We have a waiting list,” Emlaw said.

One the more eye-drawing items at Busy Hands this year was Emlaw’s Vickis Veggies Sexy Carrot Calendar.

Starting to be known as the ‘Carrot-Sutra’,  the calendar featuring these organically grown, nataully shaped and tastefully posed root vegetables were producing plenty of eyebrow raises, blushing smiles and a even a few loud laughs.

A word to those that might flip the cover and take a look for yourself- the display of Mr. January requires safety goggles.

“It’s really pure joy,” Emlaw said with a hearty laugh. “Farming can be sometimes be mundane but oddly shaped vegetables really brings me great joy. The carrots come out of the ground like this and all it takes is some imagination.”

And lest one might think it’s strictly boudoir barnyard photos, Emlaw has been sure to include lunar cycles and planting hints that have brought her growing success over the years.

“There’s information on lunar cycles and biodynamics,” Emlaw added. “The energy is different on different days so for root or fruit or leaf or flowers, there’s more energy for that planting.Those vegetables have more nutrient density so they are better for us. I also put on the calendars when I typically start to  seed tomatoes, lettuce and plant potatoes.”

Rustic Reclaimed Originals owner Joanne Dullard was effusive in her praise of the show organizers-both in show’s development and instilling of a sense of community amongst all parties.

The creator and purveyor of decorative designs on reclaimed barn board, wine barrels and salvaged goods has been an vendor at many Busy Hands shows in the past.

“Bay and Vicki have cultivated a community in Busy Hands for artisans and attendees alike, and strongly encouraged shopping locally by providing an opportunity for people to access unique products from talented area residents,” Dullard told the Gazette. “As Christmas approaches it’s such a great time to catch up with other vendors and guests who you might not otherwise see.”

Milford’s Alysa Hawkins was one of hundreds of satisfied show goers on Saturday afternoon. 

“I’ve been coming since I moved to Prince Edward County six years ago and I really look forward to it. I bring my kids and I pick out all my presents for myself,” Hawkins said with a laugh. “It’s all locally produced and reasonably priced. It’s obvious everything is crafted with  love and care.”

Just like Busy Hands itself.