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November 28, 2012

Winter Markt returns to Birmingham

By Tiffany Esshaki
C & G Staff Writer

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Winter Markt returns to Birmingham
Guests wander around Shain Park during the annual Birmingham Winter Markt Dec. 2, 2011.

BIRMINGHAM — European-style and holiday cheer are returning to Shain Park this weekend for the third annual Birmingham Winter Markt.

The German-inspired outdoor holiday event is expected to have even more to do and see than ever before, according to co-organizer LuAnne Campbell.

“It’s a community event that’s very family oriented, and it’s free and open to the public,” she said. “It’s the entire weekend, and we have tons of entertainment in addition to the traditional events that go on in Shain Park, like the Santa House and carriage rides.”

Campbell helped to plan the entertainment for this year’s Winter Markt, which takes place Nov. 30-Dec. 2 in the center of downtown Birmingham’s bustling retail center. The event is a nod to the outdoor holiday marketplaces that have long been a tradition in Europe. From food and giftware to holiday greens, crafts and children’s activities, Campbell said there’s plenty to do for everyone in the family.

The idea was originally introduced to Birmingham by longtime resident Birgit Strasser, who was raised in a small town in Germany. Together with the Birmingham Principal Shopping District, Strasser and other organizers have made the event a unique tradition that she said is gaining popularity each year.

“There will be traditional German food throughout the market, crafters, artists, local businesses,” said Strasser, adding that there will be gift items for sale to fit any budget. “It’s great holiday shopping because the items the vendors sell are good quality. We keep an eye on that. They’re things you don’t usually find in stores.”

On Friday, Miss Michigan USA Jacyln Schultz will welcome Markt guests to the opening ceremony. Then on Saturday, WOMC will be on hand broadcasting live from the event with Bobby Mitchell and Stacey Duford while Roary the Detroit Lions mascot visits with kids.  Families will get the chance to meet Nick and Blizzard, two live reindeer who will make a special appearance at the Markt on Sunday.

Strolling entertainers and warming stations will bring guests comfort and joy throughout the day, as well as the city’s Santa House and horse-drawn carriage rides, which opened at the tree-lighting ceremony Nov. 21 and will last through Dec. 24.

On the Fountain Stage in the center of Shain Park, Markt-goers can enjoy music entertainment from Birmingham school children as well as a variety of performers like the Twelfth Night Singers and Just Friends.

While parents enjoy live entertainment and maybe a German beer or snack, the younger set can head over to the Kinderhous — a children’s activity tent featuring different things to do each day.

According to John Heiney, executive director of the BPSD, even with all there is to do at the annual Winter Markt, the highlight of the event is always seeing Shain Park decked out for the holidays and sharing the spirit of the season with friends and neighbors.

“This is an exciting event that offers the community a chance to come together to enjoy the delicious sights and sounds of the holidays,” he said in a prepared statement.

Campbell agreed, saying the event is a great way to usher in the season.

“The park is just transformed — it just looks beautiful,” she said. “We work really hard, but so many people come. They’re very supportive, and everyone seems to enjoy it. It grows every year.”

The third annual Birmingham Winter Markt will take place Nov. 30 from 3 -9 p.m., Dec. 1 from 10 a.m.- 9 p.m., and Dec. 2 from 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. For more information, including a full list of activities and entertainment, visit www.enjoy birmingham.com. Shain Park is located on Merrill St. in downtown Birmingham.

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