MINT HILL, NC – On Saturday, November 7, crowds filled downtown Mint Hill for the first annual “Christmas in the Village” holiday craft show.
From 9:00 am to 2:00 pm, local artisans and craftspeople filled Mint Hill’s Historic Village selling everything from produce and locally-raised meat to jewelry, clothing and silk flower arrangements. Of course, fall- and Christmas-themed items and home decor abounded. According to Chris Gessler, a local artisan involved in organizing the Christmas Village, the committee who selected vendors worked hard to make sure it was a true “craft show” with goods handcrafted, home-made or home-baked by the vendors themselves.
Amidst continued prohibitions on large, indoor gatherings, the outdoor craft show gave Mint Hill locals like jewelry designer Diane Roselli the opportunity to show their products. Through Dee-Vine Designs, Roselli sells not only unique, customizable jewelry but also “busy bags” for entertaining toddlers. “A lot of Christmas shows have been cancelled because of COVID,” says Roselli. “That’s why we’re glad they did this all outside.”
Sandy Harrison of Vitality Ginger echoes Roselli’s sentiments. “This means the world to me,” says Harrison of the opportunity to be out promoting her naturopathic health and wellness solutions. “Everything else is gone,” she adds. “I wasn’t able to do Mint Hill Madness or Matthews Alive, so this is pretty much it!”
Harrison is a prime example of an idea Gessler has long held: that COVID has pushed many local artisans to expand their offerings and turn what may have previously been hobbies into new opportunities for income. “I’m trying to reinvent myself,” says Harrison, a long-time photographer and portrait artist who found her artistic pursuits weren’t enough to keep her afloat during the pandemic. Now, Harrison runs “Soothe the Soles” out of her studio where clients can enjoy a healing and nourishing foot soak and sells Vitality Ginger products for kids, men, women and even dogs!
The dearth of available craft shows this year drew unique vendors from outside of Mint Hill to participate. “The Pen Guy” Scott Raine traveled from Lake Wylie to show off his hand-turned pens made from exotic woods from around the world. “This started out as a side gig, and when I lost my job two years ago, I decided to put a little more effort into this and see if I could go full time,” says Raine. “Then COVID hit, and every craft fair has been cancelled for the better part of this year, so it’s a bad year to make a go of it! You’ve got to go where you can right now.”
In addition to vendors selling tasty treats, Saturday’s event also featured lunch offerings from Chilaka Taco Lab and Whitey’s Concessions. Mint Hill’s Famous Hot Dogs were also available for purchase, and Mint Hill Historical Society sold hot beverages and baked goods to benefit the barn raising.
The event also featured a schedule of live entertainment including music from local teenage singer/songwriter and recording artist Bailey Marie and the Charlotte Folk Soc Jammers. Masked visitors had the opportunity to participate in two holiday singalongs. Mid-morning, Santa visited the village, walking the tents and greeting children.
The first annual Christmas in the Village was wildly popular. Cars lined the streets behind the Historic Village less than an hour after opening while masked customers milled the aisles all morning long. “Christmas in the Village was a joy!” said Linda Fay, who went home with many new treasures. “The weather was beautiful; it was a lovely morning to walk around the Historic Village and support local craftspeople.”
Traffic from the craft fair spilled over into town, where people spent the unseasonably warm November morning meandering down Matthews-Mint Hill Road, visiting other local establishments like Vintner’s Hill and Mint Hill Roasting Company. Many people also headed to shops neighboring the Historic Village, like Daphne’s Bakery, Goodness Gracious Gifts and Interiors, and The Gift Workshop. Side-by-side gift boutiques The Gift Workshop and Goodness Gracious held a Holiday Open House from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm with all their new Christmas merchandise on display!
Gessler hopes Christmas in the Village helped raise awareness of all the wonderful opportunities to shop local right here in Mint Hill. She hopes this will be the first of many Christmas in the Village events!