MOUNT VERNON — In a whirlwind of activity, the Knox County Memorial Building will transform into the Jingle Bell Marketplace for Sunday’s Mount Vernon Christmas Walk and Parade. All three floors of the newly renovated county tribute to veterans will be filled with crafters and direct sales vendors.
Within just a few days, 50 vendors expressed interest, said Missy Potter, organizer for craft vendors.
“This was very short notice,” Potter told the News, but added she was pleased with the number — and quality — of vendors excited to participate with only about a week to prepare.
She has confirmed vendors who will offer wood crafts, crocheted products, home decor, bath bombs, vintage/rustic crafts, digital art, jewelry, Christmas decorations and much more.
In addition, direct sales vendors will be on-hand offering “name brand” products such as Scentsy, Usborne Books and Pink Zebra among others.
“The marketplace adds a totally different perspective (to the Christmas Walk),” said Potter. “You can enjoy the parade and the businesses, but this is something to get home-based businesses involved and not just those based on Main Street.”
Potter is also excited about the marketplace, the venue and the future of Jingle Bell Marketplace.
“I had no idea the Memorial Building was over there. I’ve never done anything outside the theater,” Potter said. “It is really nice — a beautiful building and so big. … I even think next year we might need to expand since so many vendors had already scheduled events for Sunday.”
The idea was sparked by conversations with vendors wanting to participate in the Secret Gift Shop at the Mount Vernon News where children have the opportunity to shop privately for gifts for their family.
“There was such a big interest in participating in the Secret Gift Shop but vendors were wanting to sell to adults, too,” said Liz Lutwick, assistant publisher of the News and Christmas Walk planning committee member. “We needed a bigger space for adults to have a place to shop.”
Not only did the planning committee land a venue large enough to house the marketplace, it secured a hidden gem in the Memorial Building. Vendors will be displayed in the Dining Room, Veteran’s Hall and the Ball Room, said Sara Lynn Kerr, executive director of the Knox County Memorial Building Inc.
“We will be coordinating all three floors and handling the functional side including set up and electricity,” Kerr said.
Kerr admits that when most people think about the Memorial Building, they think about the theater which hosts the local and state Distinguished Young Women programs, Community Concert Association events, theater productions and numerous programs for school children throughout the year. The actual Memorial Building remains a mystery for many. After Sunday, she hopes county residents will have a whole new appreciation for the building and its rental opportunities.
“We are desperately trying to gain exposure and see this as an introduction and opportunity to get people through the building. The architecture is breathtaking” Kerr said. “We are glad they asked us to participate.”
Not only will shoppers have the opportunity to take in the architecture and see the results of the renovation — which includes an elevator and handicap-accessible restrooms — the building committee will be selling beverages in the Dining Room.
Safire Sun will be performing in the Memorial Theater from 1-4 p.m., but will take a break during the Christmas Parade, which starts at 2:30 p.m.
The market place will be open from 1-5 p.m. Visitors are asked to enter through the west-side doors, near the entrance to the theater. Signs will be posted, Kerr said.
Children can shop at the Secret Gift Shop (ages 14 and under), 18 E. Vine St., from noon to 5 p.m.
Other events scheduled during Sunday’s Christmas Walk and Parade include:
•Knox County Fish and Game, along with Pheasants Forever, will offer archery and fishing opportunity for youth on North Main Street.
•Christmas Carousel, train rides, pony rides, petting zoo — all free, 1-5 p.m.
•Cookie Walk, First Congregational United Church of Christ, 200 N. Main St.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
•Christmas Parade, organized by Mount Vernon News, 2:30 p.m.
•Church Tour with maps available at Main Street Mount Vernon, 102 S. Main St.
•Tree lighting and Caroling for Christ, Public Square, 5 p.m.
The Christmas Walk is sponsored by Main Street Mount Vernon.