Guiding his Belgian mules down Hudson St. past the historic Ashe’s Hotel, Todd Olden (front,right) gives passengers a ride during this weekend’s Christmas in Warrensburgh festival.
With help from Mother Nature and a large turnout, the 24th annual Christmas in Warrensburgh celebration fulfilled its promise this past weekend.
Hundreds of people participated in this festival that embodies the holiday spirit of bygone years through its varied activities, event organizer Teresa Whalen said.
“It was a very busy, successful weekend,” she said. “Our festival was very well attended, and the snow was a gift — it made everything feel like the traditional holidays.”
Warrensburg’s town hall, transformed into “Toyland” for Saturday, attracted a crowd of children and their parents for guided crafting sessions, Whalen said.
“Children came in waves all day,” she said. “Our workshops were overflowing with kids waiting to make wooden toys, water color paintings and origami whales and sharks,” she said.
Among the artisan mentors were Skye Gregson of Chestertown and Schroon Lake, who taught children how to handcraft their own whirligigs and toy tops, Whalen said.
“Skye was whittling so fast, wood chips were flying everywhere — it was incredible,” Whalen said. “I’ve never seen so many children — the whole town hall was filled.”
Outside the town hall, Santa held court and heard Christmas wishes. He brought along two young reindeer, which captivated children.
Through town, churches held bazaars, luncheons, holiday gift and decoration sales and a Breakfast with Santa. The First Presbyterian Church held their annual Friendship Tea, accompanying their ever-popular Cookie Walk.
“I heard from the churches and businesses that they had a lot of traffic,” Whalen said. “Everyone was busy.”
Saturday’s tree lighting ceremony was well attended, with new Holy Cross Episcopal pastor Tom Pettigrew blessing the town Christmas tree. Julie Gallup of Gallup Farms served up her homemade cookies for the gathering.
Sunday’s activities also drew plenty of people, Whalen said. The Chamber of Commerce’s annual craft fair, which Whalen launched decades ago, drew a large number of skilled artisans, many of them from Warrensburg.
Whalen said the expo of Adirondack handicrafts, held at Echo lake Lodge, drew a crowd.
“The artisans were very skilled, and they displayed beautiful work,” she said.
Artisans hosting visitors in Warrensburg included Janet Schrader of Adiramics ceramics studio, Carol Gregson with her weaving and Wini Martin of Thurman with her paper bead work.
The festivities were spread out beyond Warrensburg’s borders. Among those hosting visitors were Al and Anne Rohe at Adirondack Ambiance in Thurman and Charlene Leary of Blue Heron Designs on Truesdale Hill Road in Lake George.
Willows Bistro also was busy in downtown Warrensburg Friday night with authors reading their short stories and poems.
On Sunday, visitors to Christmas in Warrensburgh enjoyed wagon rides provided by Flo and Todd Olden of Our Simple Life Farm of Warrensburg. The Olden’s Belgian draft mules pulled their handcrafted cart bearing passengers from the town Senior Center up Hudson St. to the Marcus Bruce Park and back. The prior day, the Oldens were stationed at Lazy River Farms, demonstrating how to transform flax seeds into fabric.
Whalen said this week that in planning next year’s holiday fest, she will be boosting the emphasis on artisans stationed throughout town, as well as adding more attractions on Sunday.
“We believe in staying true to the traditions, demonstrating native crafts, trying to keep the art forms of bygone years alive, “ she said. “They’ve become a big part of our celebration.”