WEST CARLETON – Organizers had no idea if anyone would even show up for the 43rd Red Trillium Studio Tour held in the midst of the second wave of COVID-19.

But the pandemic has been extremely challenging for artists and volunteer organizers decided they had to at least try. Well that effort paid off in spades as artists on the tour report, this fall’s event (normally the Red Trillium Studio Tour runs twice a year in spring and fall) had one of the busiest Saturdays in years. Sunday was looking pretty good too.

West Carleton Online dropped by The Olde Meeting House in Fitzroy Harbour yesterday (Oct. 25) around noon where artists woodturner John Chamney and potter Carl Holmes-Kerr were set up – a new location on this year’s tour.

“We had a super day yesterday (Oct. 24),” Chamney, who has been on the tour for the last four years, told West Carleton Online. “Busier than normal. Today would be normal.”

Potter Carol Holmes-Kerr and some of her whimsical creations. Photo by Jake Davies
Potter Carol Holmes-Kerr and some of her whimsical creations. Photo by Jake Davies

Studio four of 10 on the tour, the location’s logbook had 83 people signed in. The sign-in was for contact tracing if necessary and Holmes-Kerr says that the true number was “probably closer to 100,” as often one person would sign in for the entire bubble.

“It was a very busy day yesterday,” Holmes-Kerr said. “It’s slow to start today but picking up now.”

Holmes-Kerr has also been on the tour for about four years and is regularly partnered with Chamney. Usually the two are at St. Mary’s Church in Dunrobin, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, tour organizers were unable to use the church this fall.

Holmes-Kerr feels this year’s success is based in part on a renewed focus on shopping local.

“I think people are looking for one of a kind, local stuff,” she said. “I’m happy with the sales we’ve had this weekend.”

Another contributing factor may be this is one of the first West Carleton public events to be held in the age of COVID-19.

“Finally, there’s something to do,” Chamney said.

And the two artists are happy to make some room in their workshops.

“Things are piling up,” Holmes-Kerr said. “John and I were saying, we just want to make things.”