Christ­mas Mar­ket spreads hol­i­day cheer in county

Charles County Fair­grounds hosts an­nual event

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TIF­FANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­news.com

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.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY TIF­FANY WAT­SON

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.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY TIF­FANY WAT­SON

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.

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