Schoolcraft’s Annual Christmas Walk Celebrates 30 Years

By Linda Lane

Celebrating 30 years, Schoolcraft’s Annual Christmas Walk through the village will be from 6-9 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 7, and from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8.

“It’s a great tradition, started by Norma Tackett out of her love for our town to encourage people to visit the area, said Deb Christiansen. “It’s our special celebration of Christmas. It gives the town something to dress up for, because we’ve got company coming!” Tackett was the original owner of Norma’s Antiques, formerly in Schoolcraft.

Kelly Bergland and Deb Christiansen teamed up together again to coordinate the annual Christmas Walk. Both have made substantial donations to organize and publicize the event for the community.

“After Norma Tackett passed away several years ago, people wanted it to go on, and Deb and I jumped in to help with it. I found some old fliers in the archives of the Schoolcraft Ladies Library when Norma started the Annual Christmas Walk. This was really her baby,” Bergland said. “One of Norma’s fliers read, ‘All of us in Schoolcraft want you to take a Christmas Walk. You are cordially invited to browse, eat, drink and talk. We hope that this will get your Christmas spirit on its way and you’ll want to visit us another day.’”

“It’s a heartfelt endeavor on our part. It’s a community building experience. This village – they’re our friends. We really believe in the outcome of what we’re doing; it’s about getting people to work together,” Bergland said.

An annual highlight with children, Santa will be in town for photos at The Beauty Bar on Grand Street, with pictures being taken by Reflections Modern Photography from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday, December 8. Cost for the photo is $10 and includes a goodie bag. Kids can also decorate cookies with the Girl Scouts from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. that Saturday at the Schoolcraft Library. A craft and cookie sale with refreshments and a tour of the historic Schoolcraft Ladies Library will be held Friday from 6-9 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Festivities at the Schoolcraft United Methodist Church will include a sloppy Joe and pie supper Friday, December 7 from 5-6:30 p.m. with the “Forgot to Shave Quartet” and other musicians playing that evening. The next day will offer a homemade soup luncheon and cookie walk from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. The church will also have a bake sale, white elephant sale, craft sale and a silent auction on Friday and Saturday.

The First Presbyterian Church will offer craft items, baked goods and raffle tickets on Friday evening at the DeVries Law offices. They will also host a “pasties and chicken ’n biscuits” on Saturday at their Westminster Hall from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. There will also be clothing boutiques, attic treasures, crafts, a bake sale and a raffle.

This year, a “Christmas Vendor & Craft Event” will be hosted Friday evening and Saturday at the American Legion on Clay Street with a chili supper on Friday evening.

Bryce Cooley will sketch live caricatures at the Grand Antique Gallery, and other area shops will be celebrating the event including Schoolcraft Antique Mall, Nana D’s Attic, Abby’s Shop, the Kalamazoo County State Bank and the Schoolcraft Lions Club.

For the latest information on the Christmas Walk, visit the interactive map at pureschoolcraft.org.

Christmas in the Village Brings Big Crowds to Vicksburg

By Sue Moore

Hundreds of children and their parents line up to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus during Vicksburg’s annual Christmas in the Village celebration each year, usually in the cold outside the Community Center. Plans have changed dramatically for 2018. Santa will greet the youngsters inside the empty Hill’s Pharmacy building at 110 S. Main from 7-8:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8.

Visits with Santa will follow the 6 p.m. parade through downtown streets with the Big Red Machine, Vicksburg High School’s marching band, leading off. Floats lit with Christmas lights will be the featured attraction along with fire trucks from all over the area in their Christmas finery.

Activities begin with the bake sale fundraiser at the Historical Society’s Depot Museum from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Vendors from the Vicksburg Farmers’ Market will set up in the Hill’s Pharmacy building until 5 p.m. Featured dance acts from the Vicksburg Schools Community Education department will perform on the stage in Oswalt Park during the afternoon. Magician Brian Penney, who held kids captivated last year, begins the fun at 2 p.m. on the stage. A special reading of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol will be given by Terri Girardi. Caroling and other entertainment will be featured in the tent furnished by the village of Vicksburg to keep people somewhat warm. Festive window decorations by local businesses will add to the atmosphere throughout downtown.

Lots of children’s activities are scheduled during the afternoon at the Community Center where the Vicksburg District Library, the Southwest Michigan Button Club, Revelry Theatre and Project Graduation will be sponsoring kids’ events and food for sale. If that isn’t enough excitement for the little ones, the event organizing committee headed by Mary Ruple and John DeBault of the Downtown Development Authority have secured a live reindeer exhibit at the Vicksburg Historic Village from 4-7 p.m.

While petting the reindeer, folks who love model trains can take a nostalgia trip next door to see the O gauge train display in the Historic Village. To get there, a wagon ride from downtown is available to transport entire families to the site and bring them back again. Crafts and other activities will take place within the business locations downtown. There will be bake sale items available for sale at 101 E. Prairie in the afternoon.

To cap off the evening after the parade, there will be a tree lighting ceremony in Oswalt Park along with the Vicksburg High School choir members leading a community caroling session.

“Visitors to the event will be able to warm their tummies with specialty foods created for the occasion at the downtown restaurants,” according to DeBault. The Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a Pub Crawl to wrap up the evening for adults.

Ruple credits the sponsors of the event for making it noteworthy. ”Without their financial help we just couldn’t offer all these festivities,” she said. They include Frederick Construction, The Mill at Vicksburg, Imerys, Main St. Pub, the Village of Vicksburg, the Area Chamber of Commerce, Grossman Law, Hungry Howies and Fred’s Community Pharmacy. All have chipped in at various funding levels.

Christmas in the Village Activities

Pictured below are several Christmas in the Village activity photos with descriptions.

Community Caroling

caroling two
Schoolcraft residents gather in 2016 to sing their hearts out while caroling throughout the village. Photo by Stephanie Blentlinger, Lingering Memories Photography.

Caroling in Schoolcraft has brought happiness to shut-ins and carolers alike the last two years. Organized by Darby Fetzer and the Schoolcraft Community Library staff, the singers have gone from door to door to bring joy throughout the community.

Anyone who loves to sing is invited to join their neighbors on Tuesday, December 18th at 6:30 p.m. They will meet at the Schoolcraft Community Library, then travel to several choice Schoolcraft locations for caroling. Everyone is invited, even if they are not a resident of Schoolcraft. Please dress for the weather and bring a flashlight to read the provided printed carols. Kirk Bergland will be leading the singing. Afterwards everyone is invited to warm up with complimentary hot chocolate and cookies at the Library until 8 p.m. For questions, please call Darby Fetzer at 569-5557.

A Gift to Those Passing Thru Schoolcraft on Christmas Eve

John Bennett with luminaria kit
John Barnett displays the luminaria packets that the Presbyterian Church sells to decorate the streets in Schoolcraft.

By Linda Lane

Luminarias will again light the sidewalks of Schoolcraft on both sides of Grand Street (US 131) with 600 candles burning bright. Running from Lyons Street south to the railroad tracks on Grand Street, the Village of Schoolcraft will be aglow thanks to the dedicated members of the First Presbyterian Church of Schoolcraft and many volunteers from the Village.

John Bambacht, an elder with the Presbyterian Church in Schoolcraft, has been in charge of the luminaria project for over 20 years. “Each week of December we light one Advent candle which represents love, joy, hope, and peace, following in Christ’s tradition. On Christmas Day, we light the Christ candle. Our luminarias along Grand Street symbolize these Advent principles celebrating Christmas,” Bambacht said.

The project seems truly to take a village, with cooperation between the Presbyterian Church, the village of Schoolcraft, local businesses and many village residents. The endeavor requires three days of volunteers helping to organize the project. The Church calls upon families, kids and adults, to help fill jugs with sand and candles on December 23, load them onto a truck to light and distribute the luminarias on Christmas Eve, and return on Christmas morning to pick them up again. The public is welcome to lend a hand with the project. Volunteers will gather at noon on Christmas Eve at the First Presbyterian Church, 224 E Cass St. to set up. The candles will be lit at dusk.

Several local businesses such as Concept Molding donate jugs used for the luminarias and a big lighted arrow construction sign is donated by Rathco to narrow the traffic on US-131 into the center lanes to provide safety for volunteers putting out the luminarias.

The Presbyterian Church will again offer kits for the public to purchase for their own use at homes in town. Two nicely packaged kits including 10-hour candles, bags, and candle burn cup will be available: a kit of eight candles for $10 and a kit of 16 for $20. Residents will need to provide their own sand, kitty litter or dirt for the luminarias. Residents may contact the Presbyterian Church office on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday between 9 a.m.-noon at 269-679-4062.

Proceeds from the luminarias sale and support of area merchants go into the luminary fund to continue this Schoolcraft tradition. It supports the Presbyterian Church’s philosophy: “It is our gift to those passing through Schoolcraft on Christmas eve.”

Schoolcraft Retiree Holiday Dinner on Dec. 13

seniors sch dinner 4
Senior citizens have been invited to share a meal with the administrators of the Schoolcraft School system each year. It’s a chance for area residents to learn what is happening and ask questions about the facilities.

Schoolcraft residents can start their holidays gathering with Schoolcraft friends and neighbors at the high school cafeteria at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 13 for a complimentary Holiday Dinner. The menu includes salad, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans, roll and brownies for dessert prepared by the school’s kitchen crew. The evening will feature special music, district updates with time for questions from the guests.

To make a reservation, call Darby Fetzer at 269-569-5557.

Home Brewing Store Opens in Vicksburg

ribbon cutting
Andy Clouse and Dane Bosel do the honors in a ribbon cutting to celebrate the opening of their new store on Main Street. The event was sponsored by the Vicksburg Area Chamber of Commerce. The president Mandy Miller is in the orange jacket. Beside her is Brain Pitts a trustee of the Chamber and Lindsey Bosel with their three boys from left to right: Brody Bosel, Maycee Miller with the pink sleeves, Harry and Charlie Bosel.

By Sue Moore

The South County Homebrew Supply store has almost 450 items in stock and is adding to the inventory all the time. It aims to be a one-stop shop for home brewers to get whatever they need, said Dane Bosel, co-owner of the store along with Andy Clouse. They are also the owners of the next-door Distant Whistle Brewhouse.

“We love beer and we love talking about beer. We can spend hours just talking about the craft, and this store is a great way to pass on the things we have learned,” Bosel said. “Having started out as home brewers, we felt like we needed to encourage and grow the ability for others to brew at home and make good beer.”

It appears that they do make good beer; the Distant Whistle has a loyal following, having just celebrated its second anniversary this summer. Nov. 24 saw the grand opening of the homebrew store at 116 S Main Street with a ribbon cutting sponsored by the South County Area Chamber of Commerce.

“We are catering to homebrewers and home winemakers,” Bosel said. “The store contains supplies, ingredients, and books to help home brewers create their best crafts and creations. “The store stocks 60 varieties of hops, 20 strains of Omega liquid yeast and several dry yeast strains, over 50 different grains, as well as several different varieties of dry and liquid malt extracts and kits.”

The only other store in this area with home brewing stock is at Bell’s in Kalamazoo, Bosel noted.

Being a well-stocked supply store, South County Homebrew Supply is suited to offer competitive products at competitive prices comparable to other local home brew shops, Bosel said. South County Homebrew Supply plans to encourage networking and socialization between brewing enthusiasts by offering brewing competitions. The store can be reached on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SouthCountyHomebrewSupply or by phone: 269-475-5447.