Local nutcracker village brings Christmas spirit


Photo by Hannah Crites
Photo by Hannah Crites

Downtown Steubenville is coming together this winter to celebrate Christmas and community with its annual Nutcracker Village and Advent Market.

For the entire Christmas season, from November 22 to January 10, the village of beautifully hand-painted nutcrackers will be on display at Fort Steuben Park. The village website says that they will be available every day during the holiday season, and the entire community and surrounding area is invited to visit them.

These 6 foot tall nutcrackers are all made locally at Nelson Fine Art and Gifts, which is owned by one of the founders of the event, Mark Nelson. He creates the nutcrackers each year specially to be lightweight and weather resistant enough to be on display during the winter months, said the website. Each nutcracker is hand-painted by a volunteer or sponsor in the months leading up to the Village.

Many nutcrackers are designed and painted to represent some aspect of the community and culture of Steubenville, or to represent the interest of a sponsor, said the website. For instance, there are nutcrackers painted as bakers, dancers, a soccer player, a gondola rower, characters from books and movies, as well as more traditionally decorated ones. This year features a nutcracker of St. Teresa of Calcutta, among others.

Photo by Hannah Crites
Photo by Hannah Crites

The event was started with the intention of bringing the city together in community and revive the historic downtown of Steubenville. It brings an atmosphere of joy to the area and creates a place for locals and visitors to gather and celebrate the season together, said co-founder Jerry Barilla, the president of Historic Fort Steuben.

In addition to the Nutcracker Village the Advent Market takes place from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the weekends. Local businesses and individuals set up small, simple wooden booths from which they sell their goods. Hot food, drinks, toys, gift baskets and a variety of other items perfect for Christmas presents can be found at the market. Some of the venders include Van’s Toys, French Vanilla Gifts, Nelson’s Nutcracker Haus, Buena Vista Honey, Froehlich’s Kraut Haus and many more.

Photo by Hannah Crites
Photo by Hannah Crites

Every weekend during the Advent Market there are additional small events taking place. This includes hay and trolly rides that stop at the Historical Museum, Drosselmeyer Nutcracker Shoppe, Holy Trinity Greek Church and the Grand Theater. There are also opportunities to take pictures with Santa along the ride. There is also space for children to write letters to Santa and live entertainment in the evenings.

The whole city takes part in the event by putting up decorative lights and participating in the spirit of the Village and Market.

The nutcrackers are made through the donation of local businesses and individuals and are all available for purchase, said the website. It is also possible to design a nutcracker or paint one personally and have it displayed in the village.

Admission to the Nutcracker Village and Advent Market are free of charge, although donations for the upkeep of nutcrackers and creation of future ones are encouraged. Some of the additional attractions, such as the trolly rides and plays, have a small fee. There is also free parking available during the market.

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