On Nov. 27, the holiday season will officially hit Bloomington.
With wreaths hanging from canopies, scattered Christmas trees and a sparkling sleigh, the 19th Annual Bloomington Holiday Market will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Showers Building and Plaza. The market is free to attend and offers tables of local artisan goods, refreshments and free entertainment.
“It really features the sights and sounds of the holiday season,” Crystal Ritter, community events coordinator, said.
According to Ritter, the market will contain over 70 vendors and other seasonal activities, including a costumed Santa Claus for children.
It’s important, she said, because it’s an annual tradition, and it brings the community out together post-pandemic. While the city holds separate farmers’ markets and their “Fair of the Arts” throughout the year, this is the only time where farm vendors and art vendors are both at the same event.
This, in addition to the holiday traditions, makes the market an essential in Bloomington, Ritter said. And with families in town to visit post-Thanksgiving, the market offers a fun family bonding experience.
The market will also offer several activities for children. Costumed characters, such as Anna and Elsa from “Frozen” and the titular Grinch from Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” will be wandering around the plaza. In addition, there will be games, crafts and activities, such as a demonstration by a parks and recreation department naturalist and an ornament-making station.
The pandemic has derailed some elements of the market. According to Ritter, in normal years, there would be family sleigh rides and cookie decorating activities; however, these have been halted due to the pandemic.
Traditionally, the market takes place both inside and around City Hall. This year, though, all vendors will be outside. While many of the farm and food vendors are used to being outdoors, Ritter said there was some difficulty finding artists whose art could withstand cold temperatures and uncertain weather.
Marc Tschida is one artisan who will brave the cold. As the owner of PressPuzzles, a business that sells handmade wooden puzzles, he’s sold at every holiday market since 2013.
Many of Tschida’s puzzles feature IU and Bloomington-themed designs, making them popular gifts for students and alumni. It’s for this reason and more that he’s promoting buying gifts locally.
“There’s, of course, a lot to be said about shifting your holiday spending to small businesses and creators in the community,” Tschida said. “Supporting your local craft person who hasn’t been able to sell their wares over the last few seasons because of the pandemic.”
The market will also feature a wide variety of entertainment, including Trumusiq, which the event’s site describes as a soulful holiday group, The Movin’ Hips, a rhythm and blues band, and a preview of IU Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”.
The first musical group to perform, taking the stage at 10:30 a.m., are the Bloomington Chamber Singers. This 40-voice group is made of volunteer members from the community and will perform several holiday carols.
The holiday market is a particularly fun venue for the group, said Claire Tafoya, assistant to the director, because the audience sings along to the carols performed.
“It’s so much fun, and we love connecting with the audience,” Tafoya said. “Just the whole atmosphere of the holiday market is really festive.”