In the wake of what can only be described as a challenging year, Kitchener’s Christkindl Market has made its own pandemic-pivot, operating virtually for this year’s 24-day run of festive fun. As the tradition continues, members of the community are now being asked to share their favourite pictures and memories of past years, while being encouraged to engage with the market in an interesting new way.
Marjorie Wood is a volunteer with the Christkindl Market, and a recent guest on the Mike Farwell Show on 570 NEWS. Speaking to this year’s Market experience, Wood said COVID-19 presented several hurdles for the annual event, as volunteers had been planning for a regular festival at the beginning of the year – eventually pivoting to a smaller market with planned, timed events in the Spring. Wood said the online option was originally a backup, but with COVID-19 measures still being as strict as they are, the Festival decided to move forward in this new format.
There are still a number of great ways to participate in the market, however, as Wood spoke to the ‘Christkindl in a Box’ promotion – a package containing the “tastes, smells and feelings” of the Christkindl Market, filled with favourites like Piller’s Fine Foods Salami Whips, Grainharvest Breadhouse Stollen, a collectible wooden ornament and more. While supplies are limited, Wood said patrons can reserve the boxes online to be picked up from city staff in Victoria Park.
“… because we’re in a Red Zone, volunteers are not allowed to gather. City staff took time out of their day to do that.”
New this year, Wood said the Christkindl Market has also created an online advent calendar on the event website. Visitors can open a new door each day, revealing interesting tidbits of information on Christkindl Traditions, local musical performances, a German word of the day and opportunities for community members to share their favourite Christkindl memories.
“It’s a wonderful, wonderful way every day to bring a little bit of that Christkindl Festival into your home.”
As for the actual market portion, Wood said the Christkindl website now features a virtual marketplace where residents can connect with vendors from previous years, along with new additions to the festival lineup. Wood said all vendors are in Ontario, with direct links to the eCommerce, Facebook, Instagram and web pages of local businesses and artisans.
“A lot of people come to Christkindl Market to find their favourite vendor (…) we wanted to make sure that could continue…” said Wood. “You can go right onto their website, order, and it gets shipped right to your home.”
While gathering in person may not be possible this year, Wood said Christkindl Market will be even more special in 2021, as next year marks the festival’s 25th anniversary.