Shoppers and holiday cheer junkies are on their mark as December arrives and Eugene’s cup of spirit begins to overflow, letting loose a multitude of events. Possibly the most anticipated by locals is the Holiday Market, an indoor holiday-themed craft smorgasbord that is the winter counterpart to the Saturday Market, a craft fair that began in a downtown Eugene park in 1970 with just 29 vendor booths.
Held in the exhibit hall of the Lane County Fairgrounds, the Holiday Market is a set up of over 250 booths running every Saturday and Sunday between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The vendors offer up a slew of crafts, clothes, gifts and food and show off their unique gift ideas and options. A visitor to the Holiday Market can get lost among the maze of ceramics, blown-glass ornaments, jewelry, hand-crafted and sewn clothing, and herbal body care products, just to name a few. Inevitably though, a Holiday Market wanderer will end up somewhere in the middle of the hall and in the middle of heaven, the international food court.
It can be assumed that the Holiday Market was not only created to give locals the opportunity to purchase beautiful hand-made gifts from members of the community, but also because Eugenians couldn’t live without the food booths they enjoy every week during the warmer months. The mostly organic ingredients and made-on-the-spot freshness of the food is one of the market;s main draws, obvious from the crowd that takes up an afternoon residence in the food booth area.
Even if you arrive at the Holiday Market with a full stomach, you will find your tummy growling at the sight of over 20 food vendors serving up hot enchiladas, burritos, pizza, barbeque, Thai noodles, and sushi, among other palate pleasers. Homemade baked goods, cheesecake and fresh-squeezed lemonade round are just a few options that round out the menu. The food court is a good place to take a seat and a break from the endless circle of booths and an always welcomed sight for the serious, sore-footed, shoppers.
The Holiday Market is also a good place to go if you want to get fresh ingredients to make your own tasty dishes at home. The Farmer’s Market, comprised of local area farmers peddling all kinds of mostly organic produce, is located in a separate section of the main fairground building. The farmers market during the holiday season has autumn and winter produce like potatoes, squash and other ground dwellers, all the perfect ingredients for a festive holiday banquet.
The market isn’t only about spending money though. Spending time is really what it is all about, and a constantly changing lineup of musical acts brings the community together for other reasons than finding a last-minute gift for grandma.
The music stage, located in the food court, features about half a dozen local acts a day, from the various children’s choirs and area folk musicians to Celtic dance music and jazz bands.
The entertainment doesn’t end at the stage though. In true Eugene style all members of the community and visitors are invited to participate in the fun. Each day at the market is characterized by a theme, and market attendees are urged to come sporting the appropriate garb. Don’t be surprised if you are greeted by a drawl-speaking, spur-clicking cowboy on "wild wild west day" or a family of sparkling butterflies on "glitter day". As always Eugenians like to make things interesting, liven up an already bustling event and of course keep it crafty.
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