City Plans German-Style Holiday Celebration
Residents bring a bit of Europe to Birmingham with German food, local artists and holiday fun.
The Winter Markt will run from 3-8 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and noon-4 p.m. Sunday.
Entertainment will be provided by area musicians and school groups, while The Community House will serve traditioanl German dishes, including sausages, potato pancakes and hot spiced wine known as Gluhwein.
In total, there will be 33 vendors on site, a small Christmas tree lot, free carriage rides through town and holiday crafts for kids. In addition, local ice sculpture Doug Ganhs will be on hand carving six ice sculptures throughout the festival.
Executive director for Birmingham's Principal Shopping District (PSD), John Heiney, said he expects the event to be a success.
"We just think this is a nice new addition to the holidays in Birmingham," Heiney said.
The idea for the Markt was brought before the city in February by residents Birgit Strasser and Angelika Reiner, each of whom was born and raised in Germany.
"This is something we have always wanted and missed every year, so the idea was there all the time, but it's a big undertaking," said Strasser.
Strasser has lived in the United States for 22 years now, and though she has lived in Birmingham for the past five years, Birmingham was also the first place she lived after moving from Germany. Reiner has lived in the United States for six years, half of those in Birmingham.
Reiner and Strasser said during the holidays, they miss Germany's holiday markets the most.
"Birmingham is the perfect place to do something like this," Strasser said. "It's a very European-styled town, and it was all the stores, the outdoor dining and just the European feel of Birmingham that invited the idea."
Strasser, Reiner and resident LuAnne Campbell, the third member of the official Winter Markt committee, teamed up with the PSD in coordinating the event, along with the help of many volunteers and sponsors.
Heiney said he's impressed with the response from the business community. "We really feel like the merchants embraced this idea and with their enthusiasm, we decided to move forward with it."
"We were very happy to get such enthusiasm in response," Strasser said. "I did not expect that people would be so thrilled about it; it's wonderful."
Six local businesses will be participating in the event, including the Art Loft Gallery, which will be selling ornaments and other pieces of art.
"I have a huge European base of clientele," Art Loft owner Rachael Adadevoh-Woods said. "I'm from Africa and lived in England, so when it comes to people, I love the mixing of cultures."
Strasser said she's excited for the Markt, and hopes to see it repeat again next year.
"We worked very hard to make this event successful and enjoyable for everybody and I hope that it's something that people want to see year after year," Strasser said.