Kriskindlemarkt in Clifton Forge has German flavor, and local artisans

I tried saying Kriskndlmarkt five times fast before talking Laura Rainone about the upcoming food and arts festival in the Old mill at Clifton Forge School of the arts.  Laura, the executive director of the school of the Arts, assured me, a little practice helps, and shared some of the background on this annual event.

“That is one of the terms used in Germany to describe these German Christmas markets.”  

Laura continued about the market, which is in its 7th year. “You know we have a Heritage Day in Clifton Forge, and there are definitely many folks of German Heritage.  I think the reason they decided to have one was a combination of that, and because our mill, which was built as a lumber mill; it’s got beautiful timber frame construction, and some places in Germany hold them in buildings like that, so it lent itself to that kind of an event.”

Talking more about the market included the huge variety of food and beverages to be sold, as well as up to forty artisan vendors, and some special appearances by musicians, and Father Christmas himself. 

I asked what kind of art will be for sale at Kriskindlmarkt.

“Everything has to be hand made by the artisan.  It’s absolutely more art than craft.  We want to offer opportunity for vendors in the area, but we also want to bring some things that our visitors don’t see all the time.  It’s really trying to bring a little of that feeling of that you’re stepping into something unique and different.”

In addition to selecting the artisans, the market committee, including at least one native of Germany and one of Switzerland works for authenticity.

“You know, they taste of the baked goods to make sure they’re just right, and the gluwein, which is the mulled wine, so essential in a true Kriskindlemarkt in Germany, and it gets more fun every year.” 

Then Laura Rainone gave listeners the specifics on this special event.

“The Kriskindlemarkt is actually a two-day event.  It starts on Friday November 16th, and goes from 2 pm to 7 pm, and Saturday goes all day, opens at 10, and ends at 5.  There’s a two dollar cash admission, and children twelve and under are free.  If somebody comes Friday, and pays the admission fe, they don’t have to pay that second time.”

Though far from any shopping mall, young and old alike can talk to a special visitor who’s been around for very long time.

“Father Christmas is the traditional European Santa Claus is coming to us from Switzerland this year, so he’s going to sound different to people that spend time with him.  And on Friday, he’ll be here from 3:30 to 4:30, and on Saturday, he will visit with people of all ages, a lot of the time in the morning from 11 to 1:30.  And then the music schedule:  Friday from 2 to 3 we have a flutist who will walk all around the Mill among vendors and visitors, and she’ll play holiday music. And the allegheny Mountain String project is a program that teaches violin, viola, and cello to students in our region, and they get their lessons here, and they’re performing Friday from quarter of five to quarter of six. On Saturday we have the Woodland Wind ensemble from 11:15 to 12:15, and then from 2-4 on Saturday the CFSOTA brass ensemble, which is a group of really talented brass performers, and it’s very cheerful music, and a wonderful brass sound; people always enjoy that very much.”

And as for what might be different for market goers to enjoy this year?

“Every year as I mentioned, we try to add new things, and we have a member of the community

Who has collected N scale trains for a long time, and he has a very special four foot by eight foot Christmas train village, which he’s going to have set up, so this is something new for train enthusiasts.  He’ll be you know, showing them and swiping the trains out because he’s got different Christmas trains. So for people who really like that, it’s a Christmas village of trains, so that is a new feature of this year.”

This is a fundraiser for the SOTA, and obviously also for the vendors. And we usually get at least two thousand people a year for this event, so it’s very popular.  It’s the start of the shopping and the holiday season in Clifton Forge and in the Highlands.

Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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