Monthly Archives: December 2014

Schoolcraft Library Features Decorated Trees

jubille of trees 1The tree decorating competition at the Schoolcraft Library features 25 trees with a variety of themes including children’s books, sweets, farm fun, horses, cats, bears, animal crackers, and getting beautiful at the gym. Participants really thought outside of the box this year, according to Faye VanRavenswaay, library director. Some ornaments are even homemade from decorative paper or clay. The trees liven up the library and so do Jim Dean’s collection of Santas which are also on display. “This is the favorite fundraiser of many of the library staff and we are delighted to see local businesses participate alongside patrons and other library supporters.”

The Jubilee of Trees has turned out to be a surprisingly good fundraiser for the library, which is now in its third year, VanRavenswaay indicated. It costs a quarter to vote on the best decorated tree with the top three winning trees announced on December 10. Library patrons can also place a bid in the silent auction on the ten trees that will go home with the winners of the auction.

2014-11-19 08.08.27

Schoolcraft Christmas Walk

sch walk 6By Sue Moore

A 25-year holiday tradition in Schoolcraft that was the brainchild of Norma Tackett will continue this year without its maven who passed away in November. The merchants and churches have regrouped to continue the event in her honor. Norma and her husband Carl Tackett opened their antiques and old coin shop on Grand Avenue and conceived of the Christmas Walk that has become a hallmark of the season for their town.

The Christmas Walk opens on Friday evening December 5 at 5 p.m. with all the participating stores welcoming guests who can browse, munch on refreshments and drinks, and meet their friends and neighbors who frequent the lovely antique stores on Grand Street. They will stay open until 9 p.m. and start all over again at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning, December 6th until mid-afternoon.

The Schoolcraft United Methodist Church on Grand Street has activities going on with a Sloppy Joe and Pie Supper from 5-7, a bake sale, craft sale, silent auction, white elephant sale, and a gospel music quartet entertaining at 6 p.m. All of the proceeds benefit charities and people in need. They will open again on Saturday with a soup and pie luncheon from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., a cookie walk, and continuation of the bake sale, crafts, silent auction, and white elephant sale.

The Presbyterian Church, although not situated on Grand Street, will set up shop in the Brian DeVries law office just south of Bud’s Bar from 6-9 p.m. with arts and crafts, gift cards, and raffle tickets for sale. They will reopen on Saturday at Westminster Hall on Cedar Street from 9-4 p.m., showcasing the many raffle prizes that will be drawn at 1 p.m. They will continue with the bake sale, white elephant sale, clothing boutique, and provide lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Norma’s Antiques will open at 10 a.m. with her faithful staff and husband Carl to greet guests during the day. They will have a band playing upstairs for entertainment amid the great array of antiques. There are four other antique stores that will be open both Friday and Saturday according to Mike Gilpin who has volunteered to help organize the participation of stores including his store, Annie’s Thrifts-N-Gifts, as well as Abby’s Shop, the Antique Mall, and Loving Ewe.

The Salted Cupcake’s owner Korina Thompson, will attempt to keep up with the requests for her sumptuous offerings of specialty cupcakes while celebrating her first year anniversary—she opened the doors for the Christmas Walk in 2013. Kalamazoo County State Bank offers its front door space to Project Graduation sales. Both Marjo’s West and Bud’s Bar will to open for food and drink.

Celebrate the Holidays at Vicksburg Christmas in the Village

2014-11-26 05.54.37Vicksburg will be a festive place to start your holiday season on Saturday, December 6th, with activities planned throughout the day and evening hosted by the Vicksburg Downtown Development Authority (DDA) with presenting sponsor Frederick Construction. The morning begins at 10:30 a.m. with the annual Vicksburg Christmas Parade, sponsored by the Vicksburg Community Association, and visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus in their Vicksburg North Pole workshop at the Village Community Center.

The day continues with feasting on Snowman Pancakes, Reindeer Waffles and Jolly Burgers at local restaurants. Shop at the local stores and boutiques for holiday gifts you won’t find anywhere else. Shops marked with a North Pole sign post are hosting kid’s crafts and special treats. Stop by the new Winter Farmers’ Market located downtown for soaps, maple syrup, jellies, smoked BBQ, cheese dips and other locally made products.

Enjoy Victorian carolers, live ice sculpting, choir performances, and a musical children’s show featuring BenJammin sponsored by AVB (American Village Builders). Horse carriage rides, sponsored by Ronningen Research, will tour twelve downtown historic sites, stopping at the Historic Village where you will find a model railroad running through the Vicksburg Historic Village, and enjoy the offerings at the annual Vicksburg Historical Society’s Bake Sale.

Finish the day by attending the Vicksburg Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony in Oswalt Park, and enjoy a cup of cheer during the Holiday Pub Crawl. Get your card stamped at all participating pubs to earn your commemorative Village Koozie while supplies last from any of the participating restaurants.

“The community support has really been fantastic with wonderful contributions from all our sponsors, businesses and citizen support,” said Tanya DeLong, DDA chairperson. “The event committee worked hard at bringing the holiday events happening in Vicksburg into one amazing day of Christmas in the Village.” The day would not be possible without all the sponsors including Bronson Vicksburg Outpatient Center, MLC Research & Development, Eimo Technologies, Grossman & Moldovan, Vicksburg Hardware, and Ralph Hayward Agency to make this an event for the whole family. Vicksburg’s Christmas in the Village will be a festive place to start your holiday!

For more information call event organizer Kathy Hoyle at 269-352-4583. The Vicksburg DDA works on activities to enhance the quality of life in the community as a great place to live, work and play.

Behind the Scenes for Christmas in the Village

2014-11-26 05.41.13By Sue Moore

A lot of work goes into turning Vicksburg into a Christmas village. All is in readiness for the officially opening of the holiday season with a parade and full day of special events on Saturday, December 6th.

Thanks to the sponsorship of the Vicksburg Community Association (VCA), area residents have enjoyed the Christmas parade and a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus for over 20 years. Betsy Breitenbach and her elves (the teaching corps at Sunset Lake School) have been running the show for the last ten years, taking over for Mike and Kay Wunderlin and Skip and Carol Knowles.

Hundreds of people line the streets and queue up for hot chocolate, cookies and a visit with one of the nicest Santa Claus pairs known to any child wishing for his or her favorite toy. When Kathleen Hoyle, the Downtown Development Director (DDA) talked to her board about things that could be done to highlight the special stores in the village, it became clear that the first Saturday in December presented possibilities for keeping the hundreds watching the parade through downtown Vicksburg around long after Santa departed.

Hoyle, who gets things done in a big way, pulled a group together as a think-tank for holiday activities, and wouldn’t you know it, Vicksburg now has a full-fledged day of events going on from morning into the evening. Her creativity has been felt in so many ways, but this just might be Hoyle’s finest hour, according to Tanya DeLong, president of the DDA.

There are new banners hanging from lampposts downtown, North Pole markers for the elves workshops taking place in each store, and through all of it, over 12 local businesses have chipped in to sponsor the activities that have a price tag connected to it. Those major sponsorships are what have made the whole expansion of the event possible, said DeLong, but more than anything, it was Hoyle and her jolly old elves on the committee who steered it along.

Plans are set for a winter farmers’ market, an ice sculpting demonstration, a royal carriage for Mr. and Mrs. Santa to ride in, and then a wagon with horses to take families back and forth from the village center to activities at the Historic Village. There will be Christmas carolers circulating throughout the downtown at various times, BenJammin’s children music, crafts for children, and boutique shopping at the specialty stores. To top it all off, a Christmas tree lighting in Oswalt Park followed by a pub crawl to the three local watering holes will wrap up one fine day.

Winter Farmers’ Market

farmers marketKay Anderson and Stella Shearer helped all summer long at the Vicksburg Farmers’ Market to greet vendors with their assignments in the pavilion and to take care of their every need. There will be a one day, winter Farmers’ Market in conjunction with the Christmas in the Village events, sponsored by the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) from 11 – 5 p.m. at 120 S. Main Street in Vicksburg. While there won’t be as many fresh vegetables or fruits for sale, there will be some root veggies, maple syrup, honey, apples, hot cider, bake goods, sausage, beefalo, pretzels, hot coffee, handmade soap, pasties, jams and jellies from over 15 vendors that sell at the pavilion each week in the summer.

One of the favorite vendors, pastry chef Erin Hill, will have quiches and brownies for sale, and Grandpa’s Pasty and Pie Company will be on tap with their homemade pasties. Beginnings, the Schoolcraft specialty booth for BBQ meats and sandwiches will set up shop inside of the store on South Main Street that will be the one-time location for the market.
This is a trial run for a winter market to determine if there is enough interest to try it more often, according the Carol LaFrance, the board of directors president.

Christmas Trains Keep Chugging Along

For over ten years, Gerald ‘Smitty’ Smith, set up model trains running on O gauge track as part of the Historical Society’s Christmas treats for youngsters and adults alike. He passed away in 2014 but his legacy lives on through the efforts of Joe Timko and his young understudy, Travis Robertson who became enamored with trains at an early age. He became Smitty’s engineer in 2008 when he was six years old and has helped out every year since. The display will be set up in the vintage Township Hall on the grounds of the Vicksburg Historic Village for three Sundays, beginning with the events for Christmas in the Village, with the trains running from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. They will also be open on December 13 and 20, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Christmas Barn is for All Ages

2014-11-30 05.11.25By Sue Moore

The scent of holidays hangs in the hair at Mott’s Christmas Tree Farm, but it only gets better when you walk into the Christmas Barn. Customers come from all over southern Michigan to the Christmas Barn at 16200 South 21st Street in Vicksburg for their holiday fix, according to owners Mardee and Phil Mott. Their unique establishment has homegrown Christmas trees for sale and some of the best Michigan holly, grown right here on peat bogs which is sold throughout the U.S.

Besides the outdoor symbols of the season, Mardee has been decorating the old barn inside with a veritable cornucopia of Christmas décor. This year she says the trend is back to the basics, especially in colors. No more chartreuse she claims. While browsing the wreaths, the specially designed centerpiece arrangements, and the various ornaments, customers can feast on popcorn, peanuts, and hot mulled cider. It just makes the whole experience a special day for the families who have established a trip to Mott’s Christmas Barn to launch their tradition celebration, Mott proclaims.

The Mott’s originally moved to what seemed like rural Vicksburg over 35 years ago to cultivate and grow the ilex verticillata, commonly known as Michigan Holly. Phil’s relatives had been making a small business out of shipping the holly in the Midwest. Now it can even be found in stores and specialty shops on both coasts but it’s the best and freshest right on 21st Street according to those who love to decorate their homes with the little red berries.

The Christmas tree business grew out of the holly sales over 20 years ago. It has grown into a business where families can go out into the field, pick out their tree as it stands and cut it down themselves. The Mott’s offer wagon tours to help the selection process, however the wagon is pulled by a tractor and not the horses used in the old days.

The various spruce, fir, and pine trees are sheared and shaped, sprayed for disease control, mechanically shaken, netted or tied and drilled for an upright stand (upon request) before a customer leaves the property with a tree tied to the top of their vehicle. In this neck of the woods, a trip to Mott’s at Christmastime is one of the season’s nicest traditions.