Winterfest offers gifts for all

She's got to keep busy.

Especially this time of year.

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Heather Kovachich lost her husband George two years ago on Christmas eve.

You can see the sadness in her eyes but she keeps on going. Her dear sister-in-law makes sure that happens because she feels the loss, too. After all Patsy Meehan lost her brother that day.

So they take care of each other and keep moving forward.

Heather and Patsy were selling very unique artwork at the Winterfest Market Saturday morning with about 100 or so other vendors.

River Stone Art by Heather sees Heather going rock picking on the Nechako to collect what will be turned into clean, simple artwork that speaks volumes about who she is.

Along with her assembled found art supplies are quips like 'mermaid hair, don't care' and 'three dog night' and there's even 'sweet and sour pork' - can you guess what she had for dinner that night? - and with a little imagination there it is, all laid out in stones, rocks, driftwood and twigs. And the art is simply stunning.

When Heather first had the River Stone Art idea three years ago her late husband George was a bit skeptical.

"George thought it was silly," Heather said. "And then Patsy thought we should try selling at a craft fair."

When Heather came back from her first craft fair with a fist full of cash George suddenly became a believer.

Being crafty himself, George made two display easels for Heather to showcase her work. The sturdy pieces are a reminder to both Heather and Patsy that George is still near and dear to them.

Whenever Heather sells at a craft fair she can't believe the reaction she gets from passersby.

"I am just so humbled by people's reactions," Heather said about all the lovely compliments she gets. "I think it's because when people see the images and read the messages it makes them happy. When people laugh out loud I think 'yes, I did it'."

Heather said a lot of her sayings come directly from experience.

Her sister has a cat that without fail will leap into Heather's lap and then immediately put her butt in Heather's face, hence the artwork that depicts that image and the saying is 'isn't my butt cute?'

"She turns the obvious into art," Patsy said.

Heather was inspired to start making her art on a very happy day. Her son got married in Barkerville and as Heather strolled along Lightning Creek she noticed a stone that looked like a Christmas stocking.

"The more I looked the more I liked," Heather explained. "So the very first one I ever made was a Christmas scene with the stocking and from there away I went."

Visit River Stone Art by Heather on Facebook to see all her work. She accepts special orders, too.

The Winterfest saw mostly local artisans with some out of towners, too. There was felted items and knitwear, metal work and wood work, hand sewn products and lots of food stuffs. There were trinkets and treasures for everyone.

Visitor Heather Traxler brought along her two sons Hudson, 3, and Hunter, 1, and Grandma Deb from Kelowna joined in the fun. Hudson was pretty anxious to get home so he could make his hot chocolate that came in solids that would soon turn into liquid deliciousness when hot water was added to the conconction. The chocolate marshmallow combination looked very tempting.

"It's a lovely event," Traxler said. "I love that there's a combination of vendors that are local and there's also home-based businesses. That's pretty awesome."

Winterfest Market continues until 4 p.m. Saturday and then goes again from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Civic Centre.

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