Christmas Market spreads holiday cheer in county
Charles County Fairgrounds hosts annual event
Last weekend the fresh aroma of hot apple cider and the bright, beautiful lights at the Kris Kringle Christmas Market brought holiday cheer to Southern Maryland.
The fourth annual Kris Kringle Christmas Market was a two-day event held Friday evening and all day Saturday at the Charles County Fairgrounds. The large holiday event, run by the Charles County Fair board of directors, offered various LED light displays, 181 vendors, holiday food, handmade crafts from local artists and crafters, children’s activities, shopping, music and tasty Christmas treats.
“This is Christmas in Southern Maryland and people just love it,” said Larry Lathrop, coordi- nator of the Kris Kringle Christmas Market. “We set up lights, the vendors sell everything under the sun, handcrafted and we knew if we had a fami- ly-oriented show the people would come. My fa- vorite part is watching the kids. My grandkids were here and seeing how their faces light up is worth it.”
Admission was $1 or one non-perishable food item to benefit the Southern Maryland Food Bank.
Lathrop said the board really wanted to help donate to the food bank, and holding a Christmas market was one of the best ways to accomplish that. He said after the fire at the fairgrounds in 2013, which destroyed the livestock barns and show ring within the livestock area, the fair board was able to bring back 26,000 square feet of steel buildings and 16,000 square feet of wooden buildings. Those buildings fill up most of the 39 acres at the fairgrounds with vendors and make it a Christmas event that people look for- ward to every year.
“The Christmas mar- ket is a Christmas family event that is based on Jesus Christ and Santa Claus and we wanted a hometown country Christmas event,” said Charlie Gardiner, mem- ber of the fair board. “San- ta Claus comes in on the fire truck, which the Bel Alton Volunteer Fire Department has helped us with every year, and the kids get to see Santa.”
The official tree lighting and arrival of Santa Claus was held at 5 p.m. Friday with many local families in attendance.
According to Brenda DiCarlo, director of the Southern Maryland Food Bank, this year the Christmas market had 5,658 guests and collect- ed 34,842 pounds of food, which will feed 1,742 fam- ilies. She said Southern Maryland is a unique and generous area to be in, especially during the hol- idays.
“This is one of our big- gest fundraisers of the year,” DiCarlo said. “I am very pleased with all that we were blessed with. I think the sole purpose of this event was to bring Santa and Jesus Christ back to a country Christ- mas and give our community one very large wonderful place that they can not only see a great deal of lights and visit Santa and do some Christmas shopping. In the evening it is truly a spectacle to see and since most of us are native to Southern Maryland, we want to bring in that Christmas spirit.”
Waldorf resident Tina Mischou said it was her first time at the Christmas market.
“It’s good seeing every- body, all the vendors and their creativity in making things because I don’t have that kind of creativi- ty,” Mischou said. “People are friendly and it’s a nice holiday event. I especially love the animals.”
Indian Head resident Tara Selckmann attended the Christmas market with her two sons, Owen and Ben Selckmann. Her favorite part of the event was seeing the paintings, buying stuffed ham and watching her kids get a chance to meet Santa Claus.
“It’s great to bring the holiday festiveness into the community,” Tara Selckmann said. “This is my first year at the Christmas Market, so my kids and I are creating memories and traditions.”
La Plata resident Tammy Semega attends the event every year. For this year’s event, she brought her friend, La Plata resident Susan Barock, to experience the Kris Kringle Christmas Market for the first time.
“Although I’m not much of a shopper, I am en- joying looking at every- thing,” Barock said. “I bought some Christmas crafts and I am truly en- joying myself.”
“I love the Christmas spirit and it’s nice seeing the Christmas vendors and buying a few stocking stuffers,” Semega said. “I get the most beautiful greens from the Charles County Garden Club and then I go see the histori- cal homes that they have. At nighttime it is really pretty, lit up and beautiful with the Christmas music. I love Christmas time.”
Next year, the board hopes to increase the amount of food donated and potentially add an extra day to the Christmas market to allow more families to enjoy the event.
Waldorf resident Tina Mischou pets an Alpaca at the Christmas market on the Charles County Fairgrounds on Dec. 10.
On Dec. 10, Indian Head residents Ben Selckmann, 1, and his brother Owen Selckmann, 3, meet Santa at the Kris Kringle Christmas market on the Charles County Fairgrounds.
The band CrossRoads performed bluegrass music during the Kris Kringle Christmas Market at the Charles County Fairgrounds on Dec. 10.
According to Brenda DiCarlo, director of the Southern Maryland Food Bank, more than 5,000 people attended the Kris Kringle Christmas Market on Dec. 9-10, donating more than 30,000 pounds of food to the food bank.
On Dec. 10, the Port Tobacco Players created a stand-still nativity scene at the Kris Kringle Christmas Market at the Charles County Fairgrounds.