~by Boris Ladwig
With hot, spiced wine, delectable treats and solemn music, some Brown County business leaders hope to usher in a new tradition this year with a Europeaninspired Christmas festival that they hope will attract more tourists, support local artists and businesses, and reinvigorate Nashville’s sense of community.
The inaugural Christkindl Market, on December 3 and 4 around Coachlight Square, will feature family-friendly entertainment, artists, music, vendors, contests, and food for locals and tourists.
Santa and Mrs. Claus will delight children, while an angel will walk the square to encourage people to take their minds off the world’s challenges.
“We need community like we’ve never needed it before,” said Lisa Hall, a member of the event’s steering committee and a Brown County Playhouse board member.
Hall conceived of the idea and garnered the support of Brown County Chamber of Commerce President Gregory Fox, who recruited Mark Schmidt, with whom he co-owns Nashville Spice Company. Hall convinced Hanna Estabrook, former Playhouse executive director, to organize the live entertainment.
Hall said the event will complement other Brown County holiday activities, including the Brown County Community Foundation’s Stuff a Stocking drive and the Salvation Army’s Holiday Light Parade.
The Christkindl Market will feature lots of local artists whose businesses have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic lockdowns. The organizers said they are collecting grants to enable the artists to participate free of charge.
The event, which the local organizers said was inspired by similar markets in Chicago and Carmel, also aims to extend the Brown County tourist season, which tends to fall off sharply after Thanksgiving. Organizers hope the festival gives tourists a reason to stay longer or to come back.
Schmidt is designing, painting, and constructing 16 7-foot-tall nutcrackers that will be displayed around the square and in front of businesses.
The organizers hope businesses in town will get into the spirit by offering holiday specials and participating in decorating contests so that the event can benefit shops, hotels, and restaurants across town. Schmidt and Fox, for example, will sell a special blend of spices to be mixed into locally produced wine to be heated as a traditional German Glühwein, or mulled wine.
Chef Carrie Douglas, an instructor at C4 Columbus Area Career Connection, will create and sell German desserts, cider, and chocolate.
Fox said he hopes the event will bring out multiple generations to have a good time around the holidays and that the inaugural event will prove so successful that it launches a Brown County tradition.
The organizers are still looking for sponsors who can buy in at levels between $250 and $5,000, which will include event name integration and brand presence in the marketing campaign. For information, interested sponsors can email Hall at <email@example.com>. Donations are tax deductible and will be handled through the Playhouse, which also will sponsor the entertainment stage. •