German Christmas Market rings in holiday season 16th annual Lake Mohawk event attracts thousands
Debbie and Hans de Boer, volunteers at Lake Mohawk's German Christmas Market.
Photos by Rose Sgarlato
By Rose Sgarlato SPARTA- An estimated 30,000 people attended Lake Mohawk’s 16th Annual German Christmas Market last weekend. The Dec. 2-3 event, known as Weihnachtsmarkt, is hosted by the Lake Mohawk Country Club and operated by the German Christmas Market committee. The event shows an increase in attendance and vendor participation every year. Anywhere a space could be filled on and around the Lake Mohawk boardwalk, including the circular driveway, the large grassy area and all the club rooms, it was. The place was completely occupied with various vendors, food trucks, boat displays, a petting zoo, perfomance stages and other assorted festive attractions. Helena Bould is a founding member and president of Lake Mohawk German Christmas Market Foundation Inc, which achieved a pending 501-C3 (non-profit) status last May. “My theme this year was my village of volunteers –it takes so many people who volunteer their time and energy to make it happen. I am so grateful to all of them,” Bould said. There were 110 vendors over 120 spaces, and Saturday night set a record attendance with 75 percent of items sold out causing vendors to restock, according to Bould. Shops in White Deer Plaza also benefitted from the foot traffic. “We now have reached maximum capacity, but I found the flow of the entire area was much better. Putting the Brat Tent in two locations and tables on the grassy area were changes that really allowed a spread,” Bould said. “People did a loop, and traffic was constantly moving on the boardwalk.” Attendees came from all over: New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and neighboring New Jersey towns. The warm weather and lake views were enjoyed by many who were taking selfies from every open spot possible. The Narayana family of Morristown waited patiently on line for some German fare. “It is our first time here. We are definitely not disappointed. We had a wonderful time,” said Isvarya Narayana who attended with her husband and 8-year old son. Mother and daughter shoppers Lisa Marie Flanagan and Donna Domaracki of Newton celebrated Mom’s (Donna) birthday while crossing a few Christmas gifts off the list. “We are so excited to be here. It’s our first time-a friend told me about it. There are many unique items and inexpensive,” said Flanagan. Rachel Fischer of Hopatcong and Jack Hoeg of Morristown wore their best Christmas sweaters and posed for a selfie on the bridge over the dam. “We found out through some neighbors about it. It’s very festive, and the atmosphere is great,” said Fischer. Charles Taverner, owner of Northeast Kettle Corn in Princeton, has been a sweet staple at the German Christmas market for over 10 years. “We give samples to 100 percent of everyone. This is by far one of the most successful events we go to. We must sell thousands of bags here,” he said. Local artisans were also happy with the turnout. Sister Shop owners and sisters Heidi Bryne, Gretchen Coleman, Megan Hessel and Kristen Camery were selling their hand- crafted decorative items for the second year in a row. “It’s much busier than last year. All Lake Mohawk pillows and ornaments sold out first,” said Gretchen Coleman. “ Because of the great feedback we get here, an on-line Sister Shop is coming soon.” The now non-profit organization will donate net proceeds to local charities; beneficiaries will be announced at a post event at Lake Mohawk Country Club on March 18, said Bould. “It is far too early to talk about net proceeds, but it will all be given to local charities in Sussex County," Bould said. "I am very proud of what we accomplished as a group of volunteers. We know this is a great event for Sparta." As Bould pointed out, the success results from a great partnership with Lake Mohawk Country Club and tremendous help from Sparta Police, Sparta Fire and the many volunteers and businesses. Lake Mohawk Country Club Interim General Manager Barbara Wortmann comments: "Lake Mohawk Country Cub was delighted to host and partner with the German Christmas Market Committee once again this year," she said. "Everything was just great. Our Lake Mohawk team of employees worked tirelessly to support this amazing event. It is fun and very rewarding to all of us to see the event so successful.” The 17th annual Lake Mohawk German Christmas Market will return next year to its same Lake Mohawk location with a new addition of more vendors in the Sparta PAL Building, Bould said.