‘A team effort:’ 38th annual Country Christmas Faire returns to Nevada County Fairgrounds
Special to Prospector
Of the many traditional events forced into hiatus in 2020, few have enjoyed a return as successful as those tied to the holiday season. The Nevada County Fairgrounds is home to one such event and will be hosting the 38th annual Country Christmas Faire from Friday through Sunday.
In the wake of the dismissal of the fairgrounds CEO in September, Nevada County Fairgrounds Deputy Manager Katie Bielen is serving as interim CEO.
“It’s a whole team thing,” Bielen said. “I oversee it, but we have a team. The vendor coordinator gets all our vendors, our accountant helps get other volunteers to help with our partnerships and parking. It’s definitely a team effort and we are full. We have over 100 vendors and a wait list as well.”
While Bielen is a new employee of the fairgrounds, having just started her tenure as Deputy Manager on July 1, she is no stranger to the fairgrounds itself.
“We grew up here,” she said. “My mom was a vendor at the Christmas Faire. I grew up at the fairgrounds. My mom worked at the fair. I showed animals for the fair. I didn’t want to let go of the fair, I guess. As soon as I could, I started working here just during fair time, and when the job (as deputy manager) became available, I applied, and I got the job.”
More than 100 vendors have signed up to sell their crafts or provide sustenance to eager shoppers. The Country Christmas Faire has become part of the Thanksgiving weekend celebration for many locals joined by out-of-town guests, who work off some of their turkey, stuffing and pie with a welcome walk through the fairgrounds.
Some of those vendors include returning favorites Christmas Rose Dough Fun, who sell personalized dough ornaments and will be in Ponderosa Hall.
“They are a huge hit,” Bielen said. “They make the ornaments you can get customized, and Kylerkraft Studio will be in Main Street Center. He has the Santa Clauses.”
Attendees can expect to find just about every kind of craft and many unique gift ideas. From original watercolors to handcrafted Santa’s, teddy bears, quilts, personalized signs, table decor, yard art, nativity scenes, ornaments, functional wood crafts, bath soaps and bombs, vases, cutting boards, jewelry, hats, candles, ceramics, macrame, children’s clothing, leather goods, aprons and more.
Food items that will be for sale include olive oils, vinegars, chocolates, caramel apples, gourmet nuts and dried fruits, spice blends, and homemade candy, including toffee.
Attendees will not have to worry about sustenance as Bielen said there will be more than a dozen food vendors, including the very popular Cousin’s Maine Lobster.
“We have locals, but also brought in Cousin’s Main Lobster for Friday and Saturday of the event, but we have 10-15 food vendors,” she said. “Java John’s will be here. Coco’s Ice Creamery, Grandma’s Kitchen, Half Pint Kitchen and Lazy Dog Chocolateria, so different small vendors, too.”
In addition, there will be vendors selling, among other items, cinnamon rolls, Philly cheesesteaks, hot pretzels, sliders, nachos, tacos, smoked sausages and, of course, the highly popular caramel corn.
Beverage vendors include coffee drinks, lemonade, hot apple cider and hot cocoa.
This year also includes a display of gingerbread houses, cookies and other treats in the Northern Mines Building.
“We have a smaller exhibit of community entries – kind of like the same thing as fair – where people entered gingerbread houses, Christmas ornaments and cookies,” Bielen said.
The entry deadline was last Friday with judging taking place early in the week. Winners’ ribbons will be on display throughout the weekend. Prizes were provided by local business owners including Tess’ Kitchen Store and Lazy Dog Chocolateria.
In addition, there will be a sleigh on display where people can drop off gifts to be donated to local families.
“We will disburse those to the community,” Bielen said. “We are trying to bring the community into the fairgrounds because that is what this place is about.”
And no one will need to miss out on a visit to Santa, she added.
“Santa is in Tall Pines Building this year,” she said. “Right on Gold Path.”
There will be Errand Elves, provided by Clear Creek School, and horse drawn carriage rides will add to the day’s activities.
“We have horse drawn carriage rides and therapy horses you can pet and take pictures next to and some musical entertainment,” she said.
Musical entertainment will be provided by Chris Crockett on the Pine Tree Stage and Rick Tolles, who will be strolling through the fairgrounds.
Christmas-themed attire is encouraged. Take a photo and tag the fairgrounds on Facebook or Instagram to be entered for a chance to win a fair package.
Patrons can save up to $2 off admission Sunday by bringing nonperishable food items.
“On Sunday at the Craft faire, we partner with Interfaith Foodbank Ministry and hand out discount certificates,” Bielen explained. Admission is normally $5 to get in (children 12 and under our free) and parking is free. “You can bring up to two items and get $2 off per person.”
“Having the team we have here at the fairgrounds makes most events very easy and smooth running, so that is very helpful,” Bielen said. “We have three or four core employees so the people who come and love the fair come here and give the insight to get the job done and make it a great event. Me growing up here, I expect to go to Christmas Faire and see certain vendors and know what to expect. It’s refreshing to see new vendors too, but I think Christmas Faire is definitely a time that family is in town, and you go to the fairgrounds to do some Black Friday shopping and keep it local as well. I’m really excited.”
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire, as well as a podcaster at HollieGrams. You can hear her episodes at http://www.buzzsprout.com/1332253. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
WHAT: 2022 Country Christmas Fair
WHEN: Friday, Saturday and Sunday; Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday
WHERE: Nevada County Fairgrounds, 11228 McCourtney Road, Grass Valley
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