It’s all about celebration. The streets are decorated, Santa is in the parade, candy is flung and stores are open late for post-work shopping. Charities accept canned-food donations. (Be kind, here. Nobody wants your out-of-date can of Brussels sprouts, but thanks anyway. Pick up something new for the box.)
Holiday events are more than just a thing to do, though.
For the shoppers, it’s a chance to meet the people who make the things you’ll buy, and to find unique items for everyone on your list.
For businesses, “events help attract new visitors and show off what makes our town so unique,” said Dickens on the Delaware co-chair Tanyia Vennatta, “while building a sense of pride for our community.”
“That makes us destination towns,” agreed Alessandra Iavarone, owner of the Velvet Maple in Narrowsburg, NY. And with winter events, “we want something in the off-months. Otherwise restaurants close, the hotels are empty and we’d turn into a ghost town.”
Putting the events together isn’t a cakewalk. “There’s a lot of coordination, vendor management, planning, promotion and execution,” said Callicoon Holiday Craft Fair organizer Katie Welsh. The vast majority of that work is done by volunteers.
But it’s all worth it. Because ultimately, these winter events are about our communities. We get together, share food, watch the kids play and we talk. We see each other as people who are part of something larger.
“Establishing a strong town identity is important especially for smaller towns,” Vennatta said. “We use these events to connect our residents, to keep tradition alive and make new ones as well.”
Honesdale’s winter celebration may be the granddaddy of them all. “Honesdale for the Holidays has been in existence, in one form or another, [for] 40-plus years,” said Lisa Burns, executive director of the Greater Honesdale Partnership. The organization serves as a voice for Honesdale business and tourism, and as an advocate for responsible economic growth.
The event is deeply traditional. “The star lighting is over 50 years old... the ornament hunt is 25 years old,” Burns said.
And it will all be back again for 2019.
The event is now called “Winter Wonderland,” after the song, which was written by local businessman Richard Smith in 1934, Burns said.
This year, the vendors will set up shop on Friday, November 29, and Santa makes his appearance at 6 p.m. in the annual parade. It ends “in Central Park with free hot chocolate, doughnuts, pictures with Santa,” Burns said. The tree and the star will be lit, marking yet another year of celebration.
“On Saturday, we are honoring our small businesses with vendor marts and free trolley transportation to businesses and vendor marts,” she added.
The ornament hunt is scheduled for Saturday, December 7 at 10 a.m.
A few items I purchased at the Callicoon Craft Fair in years past. The placemats have seen years of service, the duck toy has been played with by small visitors and this jar of jam was saved to remember the friend who made it. Not pictured are multiple Christmas ornaments, the catnip cat toys which were destroyed by my cats and the tiny Sculpey animals made by a little girl, which were given to my daughter.
CALLICOON, NY — Every year on Black Friday in Callicoon, the craft fair is in full swing. The event has been a mainstay here for decades. The room at the Delaware Youth Center is crammed with tables and vendors and especially shoppers. It is always crowded. Always.
This year, Katie Welsh is in charge, and the vendors started calling in the summer, trying to get table space.
The focus is on the handmade. As in, made by hand, at local homes, by your neighbors. Handcrafted toys and sculpted dolls, jewelry, ceramics, photographs and hand-sewn goods. “We have everything under the sun,” Welsh said. “Catie Cakes will be here.” So you can stop to eat too.
The craft fair is one of the biggest fundraisers for the youth center, which offers summer activities, a pool and a safe space where kids can just be kids. So when you spend Black Friday weekend here, you’re not just supporting local business, you’re helping your community and its children.
Callicoon Craft Fair takes place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, November 29 and 30, at the Delaware Youth Center. For more information, contact Katie Welsh at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CALLICOON, NY — Dickens on the Delaware brings Victorian England to Callicoon.
It’s one of the best-attended events of the year—not bad for December. And it’s a chance for Main Street’s shops to launch the holiday to the crowds.
For instance, said co-chair Tanyia Vennatta, vendors will ply their wares in the Ballroom at the Western Hotel and the library will host a gingerbread-cookie decorating contest. A horse-drawn carriage will give rides, a bonfire will warm the people who brave the outdoors and Dickens readings will be held to celebrate the great man himself.
For more information, watch their Facebook page, Dickens on the Delaware.
HURLEYVILLE, NY — Hurleyville is all about the unexpected. The winter celebration, Holiday in Hurleyville on Saturday, December 7, lets the town come alive with art and dance… and technology.
Santa will be at the Hurleyville Arts Center (HAC) Ballroom from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the HAC theater will show “Frozen” twice. Buck Brook Alpacas will have a pop-up shop, and you can pick up your holiday gifts at the vendors’ tables. Late afternoon will see a performance by Main Street Dance, and the tree is lit at 5 p.m.
But there’s fun for the STEM-minded, too. Visit THINC, the Technology Hub and Incubator, which is housed at the Center for Discovery. It boasts a Maker’s Lab and four other labs where you can experiment with technology and innovation.
There’s a winter hike into history along the milk train trail, led by County Historian John Conway, and the Sullivan County Museum will be open.
For more information, contact Heather Quaintance at email@example.com
Who could resist? Velvet Maple owner Alessandra Iavarone and event person-in-charge Cecilia Coacci hashed out the details of the program on a rainy Thursday. How many cupcakes needed for decorating? Who in Narrowsburg has what activity going on and when?
“People do everything they can do,” Iavarone said. “Everyone is so helpful. It’s heartwarming.”
Lunch with Santa is happening on Saturday, December 7 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., with more activities planned around town. Preregistration is required. Contact Cecilia Coacci at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NARROWSBURG, NY — IndieMart Narrowsburg, begun eight years ago by Allison and Paul Ward and Pamela Mayer, is where to go if you want to shop thoughtfully. Forty-two artisans offer handmade ceramics, wool from Callicoon’s Wool Worth, handmade tableware from Scullery & Sundry, socially conscious clothing from MayerWasner and much more.
The fun starts the weekend of December 6 to 8 and continues the following weekend, December 13 to 15 at the DVAA Recital Hall. Friday hours are 1 to 6 p.m., Saturday hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday hours are 12 noon to 5 p.m. For more information, go to their Facebook page, Indie Narrowsburg, or website indiemartnarrowsburg.com.