Craft show kicks off holiday season in South Okanagan

Santa Presents craft show will feature the work of 100 vendors this weekend at Penticton Trade and Convention Centre

You can almost hear the jingle bells jingling as organizers prepare to unwrap the kickoff to Christmas here in the South Okanagan.

The 16th annual edition of the Santa Presents craft show will feature the work of 100 vendors who will spread holiday cheer inside the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre this Saturday and Sunday.

But even after all these years, the name Santa Presents still causes confusion for some people, said organizer Marge Noble.

Is it a show presented by Santa, or does it show off gifts that could be from Santa?

Noble said there’s no right answer.

“It’s a play on words. It is Santa presenting, meaning Santa’s there and you can look on all those crafters as his elves,” she explained. “Or, (the crafts) are all his presents.”

Noble, who helped launch the show in 1997, spends six months a year planning the event with the help of her daughter, Julie Robson. The pair travels to other craft shows to find interesting new exhibitors to invite to Penticton; a quarter of the crafters this year will be new.

What’s also notable is that proceeds from the show go towards the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation to help fund cancer care at Penticton Regional Hospital. Since its inception, Santa Presents has raised $55,000 for the cause.

Proceeds from the 2012 edition will help buy a $50,000 sentinel node probe.

Janice Perrino, executive director of the medical foundation, said the device is used to determine which lymph nodes in breast cancer patients contain cancer cells.

Without the probe’s help, surgeons would remove 20 or 30 lymph nodes to be safe, but with its help can usually remove just a couple. That speeds up patients’ recovery time and causes them much less pain, Perrino explained.

She said the foundation bought its first such probe in 2009, but it can only be used once a day due to the time it takes to sterilize and maintain the machine between patients. Meanwhile, the hospital does 250 breast cancer surgeries per year so the existing device isn’t always available.

“It’s too bad we need a second one, but thank goodness we now have the capability to make this surgery so much better for women,” Perrino said.

Santa Presents goes 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $4. Santa himself will visit each day at 1 p.m, and attendees will also be treated to harp music from Simon Funk.