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December 2, 2013

Winter Markt heats up downtown Birmingham

By Tiffany Esshaki
C & G Staff Writer

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Rich Bercel, co-owner of Cooky Kutchey Farm Produce, replenishes the Christmas tree inventory during last year’s Winter Markt. He brought Fraser firs, or as he calls them, the “best of the best” in fresh Christmas trees.

BIRMINGHAM — Gloves on, coats zipped and seasonal smiles shining; it’s time for the Birmingham Winter Markt.

The fourth annual event will once again feature live entertainment, yummy food, gift items and plenty more cold-weather fun in Shain Park Dec. 6-8. The European-style outdoor holiday event draws throngs of visitors looking for some good old-fashioned — or rather, old-world — family fun. 

The concept was introduced a few years ago by Birmingham resident Birgit Strasser, who was raised in a small town in Germany. Together, with the Birmingham Principal Shopping District, Strasser and other organizers have grown the event to be one of the city’s favorite holiday traditions.

“The Birmingham Winter Markt event has grown in size and popularity each year. We’re excited to offer it again this year and to come together as a community during this special time of year,” John Heiney, executive director of the Principal Shopping District, said in a prepared statement.

Guests, dressed in their chilly best, can enjoy ice carving demonstrations on Friday night, roaming winter princesses on Saturday and live reindeer on Sunday. Throughout the weekend, warming stations will be blazing and the horses will be jaunting as visitors take carriage tours of downtown Birmingham.

Kids can create their own winter masterpiece in the Kinderhaus children’s activity area, and the whole family can enjoy live entertainment throughout the weekend, including performances by Twelfth Night Singers, The Village Youth Theatre and the Eric Neubauer Brass Band. Radio personality Stacey DuFord, of WOMC 104.3 FM, will kick things off Friday night with an opening ceremony.

And then, of course, there’s the shopping. What better excuse to put a dent in your holiday shopping list  than the local vendors who will pack Shain Park with unique gift items for just about everyone.

Once again, Ron Nolan will be at the Markt to sell his hand-made wooden toys. He’s been crafting banks, crayon holders, trucks, trains, pull toys and other playthings for more than 35 years, and customers returning to the Markt see his expert craftsmanship.

“I don’t do nearly as many shows as I used to, but that’s one of my favorite shows. It’s a really community-oriented show, and being so close to Christmas, it’s a good time for toys,” said Nolan.

Also at the Markt this year will be wooden cutting boards by Beverly Hills Woodworks; Cooky Kutchey Farm Produce with Christmas trees, wreathes and other winter greens; Nellie’s Natural Soaps; and Maestros Dog Haus, with a selection of all-natural dog treats, clothes and accessories. But with around 50 vendors slated to be there, there are far too many choices to name.

“This is the third time I’ve done it, and the past two years, it really hasn’t been too cold,” said Nolan. “The sales are usually pretty good, and the people who put it on are very accommodating. I like it; I really do.”

The fourth annual Birmingham Winter Markt will take place 3-9 p.m. Dec. 6, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Dec. 7 and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 8. For more information, including a complete list of vendors and entertainment, visit www.enjoybirmingham.com.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Tiffany Esshaki at tesshaki@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1095.