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Shepherdstown Holiday Marketplace celebrates 30 years of Christmas shopping

By Staff | Dec 12, 2018

Mary Easterly, of Pennsylvania, browses through some holiday greenery at the Shepherdstown Holiday Marketplace. Photo by Tabitha Johnston.

SHEPHERDSTOWN – For over 25 years, the Shepherdstown Holiday Marketplace has been held every year in downtown Shepherdstown, featuring the work of artisans from around the Eastern Panhandle.

The juried show, which is now a permanent fixture at the Entler Hotel, is in the middle of its four-weekend run between Thanksgiving and Christmas. According to co-coordinator Judith Williamson, the event was started to make it possible for community members to have unique gift opportunities and support local small business owners like herself.

“Everything we have here is handmade – all of our vendors are from the local area. Many of our vendors have come over the years, and keep on coming back,” Williamson said, as she showed off her repurposed clothing made out of felted wool. “We try not to have people with similar items in our show.”

According to Williamson’s co-coordinator Susie Wimer, she started helping Williamson put on the show for Christmas in Shepherdstown about 25 years ago, which has led to Wimer and Williamson developing a friendship over the years.

“Through the process, we’ve become friends. We both have a similar background in handmade things,” Wimer said, mentioning they agree on how to jury the show, with a focus on product variety and quality. “When you have a small space, you don’t want duplicates. Our thinking is, support a small business and support handmade.”

Wimer’s products at the market include holiday greenery and Christmas pies. Wimer is selling holiday greenery at the marketplace throughout the four weekends, but rather than having her Christmas pies on-hand to give to customers on the spot, she takes orders from them, and hand-delivers the freshly baked pies to her customers’ homes on Christmas Eve, to ensure the pies are fresh for Christmas celebrations.

Another artisan at the marketplace included Robert Gallienne, of Limekiln Road Woodworks, who took up his craft of making birdhouses out of repurposed wood and metal to support himself after he was laid off from work.

“I do it pretty much all year – they’re kind of quirky, they’re not like your everyday birdhouse. We don’t use anything that is from a store,” Gallienne said, mentioning his birdhouses have been bought online by customers as far away as Canada and England. “If anybody told me I would be doing this this long, I would’ve told them they’re nuts! But they’re fun to do.”

While many of the marketplace artisans have been selling there for years, they are not the only participants who have made the event a tradition for themselves. Mary Esterly, of Pennsylvania, has been visiting the marketplace with her cousins for at least five years in a row, and said it helps her get into the Christmas spirit.

“The greenery, the festivities – it’s a hometown feeling,” Esterly said. “Everything’s so homey, everyone’s so friendly.”