FACTORYVILLE — Christmastime is known to be the busiest time of year for the elves in the North Pole, but Santa’s workshop isn’t the only place where one might hear the sawing of wood and hammering of nails that accompany the creation of something special – and perhaps magical – for the holidays. Borough residents may have even heard such sounds recently coming from the properties of two of their neighbors, Herb Beck and Gregg Yunko.
The local craftsmen have been hard at work, each building five wooden booths that resemble small storefronts. These booths – 10 total – will be occupied by local vendors during the upcoming Factoryville Christmas Market, a two-day, outdoor, European style marketplace featuring live entertainment, hot food and warm drinks, an “elf school” with children’s activities, shopping and more.
The event, which organizers hope to make an annual affair, will be held from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 9 and 10 at the Christy Matthewson Park, located behind the Lackawanna Trail Elementary Center. People may utilize the school parking lot and walk over the pedestrian-covered bridge into the park. Admission is free.
The Factoryville Christmas Market started off as a dream of Park Development Board Member Sadie Rozenburg and her husband Keith Rozenburg. The Factoryville couple, along with their two children, Charlotte, 9, and Asher, 5, spent last Christmas in Germany, where they lived temporarily due to Keith’s job with a local German glass company.
“We spent last Christmas going to all of the different European Christmas markets, and they were just so enchanting that we wanted to bring it home with us,” Sadie said.
She added after returning from Germany, they met other people who spent time there and had the same desire to bring the Christmas markets to this area.
“Nancy and Mark Walter lived in Germany for years and always dreamed of doing a Christmas Market in NEPA,” she said. “Eric Petersen and Erika Winklebleck have German roots and have been visiting the Christkindl Market in Mifflinburg for years.”
Even people who have never been to Europe embraced the idea, and soon it seemed the whole town wanted to help.
“Everybody’s been so helpful in this event,” Rozenburg said. “We have the (borough) council, we have the Rotary (club) helping out, the Men’s Civic Club, the Women’s Civic League – they’re all helping decorate and just make it an awesome event. I am so grateful for such an amazing town that has embraced this idea and run with it.”
The Factoryville Volunteer Fire Department is in on the fun, as well, with plans to bring Santa Claus in for photographs with the children.
The local event is modeled after those in Germany, but with some small differences.
“The Christmas markets were just magical,” Rozenburg said. “Every town has their own Christmas market. So, the bigger cities have huge ones, and the little tiny cities will have six stalls next to each other down their main street. They all have bratwurst on rolls, and potato pancakes, and gluhwein (a spiced wine), and then they’ll have a kinderpunsch for the kids, which is pretty much a warm fruit punch.”
Some of the larger markets even had carousels, which she said Charlotte and Asher enjoyed.
She explained when one purchases a warm drink at the German markets, in addition to the cost of the drink, he or she pays a “deposit” for the mug in which it is served. The customer then has the option to keep the mug or return it in exchange for their deposit. With the intent of keeping things simple, the organizers of the Factoryville event decided against using the same system. They will, however, offer mugs for sale, which can be filled with warm drinks during the event and taken home afterwards.
Various foods and drinks will be offered for sale, such as chili, cider, mulled wine, tea, hot chocolate and coffee. The Alpine House, Honesdale, will offer bratwurst, pretzels and other German food. Local vendors will sell Christmas gift items, such as scarves, jewelry, ornaments, wooden toys, photography and more.
A small entertainment stage, sponsored by Penn East Federal Credit Union, will feature local musicians and groups, including Keystone College’s Chamber Ensemble and Keystone Voices, Vocal Accord Quartet, Jonny D, Alex and Reid, Farmer’s Daughter and the Lackawanna Trail Madrigal Singers.
To close the event on Sunday evening, everyone will carol by candlelight to the Factoryville Borough Hall, where Santa will light the tree and the Keystone Chamber Ensemble will perform.
Rozenburg hopes rather than complaining about the winter weather or allowing it to keep them away, people will embrace the season and enjoy being outdoors.
“It’s just a time for people to come out and enjoy the wintry weather,” she said. “We’re encouraging people to just bundle up. …It’s part of the fun of Christmas — enjoying being outside and bundling up and having warm drinks.”