“We all made it,” said Brittani Schwartz, In Motion Dance group teacher, to the audience before her students danced in Memorial Auditorium at the Christmas Festival on Nov. 30. “The weather will not beat us. We’re Minnesotans.”
The show went on for the In Motion and Just for Kix dance groups, piano students, Wadena Royalty, Mr. and Mrs. Claus and 60 vendors. Due to the blowing snow and road conditions, carriage rides and the Southbrook Baptist Bell Ringers performance did not occur. The National Weather Service recorded 8 to 12 inches of snow fell in Wadena on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.
The weather impacted those who could make it, though, Wadena Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jed Brazier believes the approximately 1,000 attendees and 60 vendors was better than expected.
“We’re pleasantly surprised how many people decided to brave what was talked up to be a very bad storm but realistically for us locally it seemed like the bulk of it missed us and we weren’t impacted too much,” Brazier said.
Some vendors saw a difference in the number of people with a mediocre day of business. At Bonnie Lee’s Crafting Den & General Store booth, she continued selling items for children and adults with a focus on handmade items. Lee sells Christmas patterned items and special baked treats beginning in July.
“I thought it was going to be a bum show, and I see a lot of vendors didn’t make it … but turned out good. We’re doing a good job,” Lee said.
Brazier heard from a couple vendors who sold more than last year. One of the booths that remained busy was Janice Tervo’s personalized ornaments. She has been writing children’s names and the year on ornaments for over 20 years. Tabitha Gedde and her family return to the festival each year for this special item. And when her children turn 18 they are gifted these ornaments for their future Christmas tree.
“We come here every year to get ornaments from her because we feel that she’s very special to us as we put the ornaments on the tree every year,” Gedde said.
While vendors awaited a burst of activity after the performances, people enjoyed cheering on family members and seeing the spectacle of pianists and dancers rotate through the stage. Christmas music of various renditions came with each dance and piano performance.
“Walking by when that auditorium was full and timing it just right and something finished and all the applause and stuff, that’s pretty cool. We like seeing that for the kids, that’s a feeling that they don’t get too many places, so that’s a great opportunity for them to feel that crowd reaction,” Brazier said.
The excitement continued as families visited Mr. and Mrs. Claus—Jerry and Irene Baron—in a new location. As family members arrived they said they had a hard time finding Santa. The location was changed to ease the flow of traffic by the auditorium and for guests to not have to pay to see Santa, Brazier said.
“I think the location is not good, we’re way back away from all of the people. You need to be more centralized so the kids see you,” Irene said.
Although fewer children visited Santa than in previous years, the Barons love hearing their Christmas present wishes. And with this year’s festival complete, Brazier looks forward to next year and better weather.