MINT HILL, NC – On Saturday, November 7, Mint Hill Farmers Market will host the town’s first annual “Christmas in the Village” holiday craft show.
From 9:00 am to 2:00 pm, over forty vendors will be set up in Mint Hill’s Historic Village. With limited space and over one hundred vendor applications, the selection committee prioritized local artisans and craftspeople who offer home-made and hand-made goods.
The resulting craft fair promises to be a fun, outdoor event where you can find handcrafted, one-of-a-kind treasures. Expect to see baked goods, clothing, jewelry, refurbished furniture, woodworking, silk flower arrangements, locally raised meat and produce, and more!
“Pretty much everybody who will be there is making the items,” says Chris Gessler, a local artisan instrumental to organizing both the Farmers Market and the Christmas Village. “It’s all handcrafted, home-made, or home-baked by the vendors themselves. We really worked hard to make sure this is what we’ll be having.”
The idea for the craft fair sprang from an unlikely source: COVID-19. With continued limits on how many people can gather, many large, indoor craft fairs have been canceled this year, severely limiting opportunities for craftspeople and artisans to showcase and sell their products. Gessler and her fellow crafters began to wonder if there was a way to offer an open-air craft show, similar to the Farmers Market itself.
In addition to craft vendors, the event will feature musical entertainment and numerous food vendors. Chilaka Taco Lab and Whitey’s Concessions will be offering lunch, and, of course, Mint Hill’s Famous Hot Dogs will be available. Mint Hill Historical Society will also be selling hot beverages and baked goods to benefit the barn raising.
Gessler worked with the Mint Hill Historical Society and many of the Farmers Market vendors to get the idea off the ground. They also reached out to local churches and other venues that normally hold fall craft shows to get the word out.
Gessler credits the overwhelming vendor response not only to the limited amount of opportunities this fall but also to more people crafting during quarantine! When the Farmers Market welcomed more vendors than ever before this summer, Gessler theorized that being stuck at home pushed people to explore their creative side, and perhaps some of them even turned those previously unexplored talents into new sources of income. She guesses the same is true of those who applied for the craft fair.
In a time when many small businesses are struggling to stay afloat, shopping local is more important than ever. “You have all these places online that can give you a good price, but you know what?” says Gessler, a lapidarist. “A lot of that stuff doesn’t even come from this country. Yes, it may cost a little more, but you’re getting quality, and you’re helping people in your own area to get small businesses going.” Although many independent crafters sell their creations on websites like Etsy, for Gessler, it’s different when that shopping happens in person where you can see an artist’s work and hold it in your hands.
Gessler dreams big, hoping that a renewed focus on hand-made goods and shopping local truly has the power to usher in a new era for small businesses. “In a year or two, maybe those vendors will be doing so well, they may open a shop!” she muses. “But it takes time, and you’ve got to get your name out there.” She even hopes that events like this will inspire children to use their hands and their imagination to create art of their own. And, of course, she hopes this will be the first of many annual “Christmas in the Village” events.
“Christmas in the Village” will take place in Mint Hill’s Historic Village on Saturday, November 7. Parking is available along Hillside Drive and at Mint Hill Baptist Church. Bathrooms and hand sanitizer will be available; patrons are asked (though not required) to wear masks and reminded to maintain appropriate physical distance from others, especially inside vendors’ tents.