Enjoy a start to the holiday with events in West Jefferson this weekend. It is the official start to the Christmas season and downtown merchants are going all out to help residents and visitors enjoy their time in town.
It begins with the lighting of the Community Christmas Tree in the Backstreet Park in West Jefferson Friday at 5:15 p.m. There will be carolers and refreshments, and a visit from Santa Claus. Participating stores (about 24) will be open until 8 p.m. for early bird shopping.
The Ashe County Farmers Market will be open on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 26 and 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with homegrown and handmade items such as holiday greenery, crafts, and baked goods. Lots of interesting and unique gift ideas available.
The fun continues on Friday, Dec. 3 as carolers roam the streets dressed in costumes from ‘Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol’, a horse-drawn wagon is planned for rides around town, and shops will once again be open until 8 p.m.
Saturday. Dec. 4 offers lots of holiday fun with visits from Santa Claus (and photos with him) at the farmers market and at the Ashe County Arts Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and at Backstreet Yoga from noon to 3 p.m. The Chamber of Commerce will have an open house from 1-3 p.m. including artist Bessie Clay signing this year’s holiday ornament featuring Cascade Falls.
On Sunday, Dec. 5, at 7:30 p.m., the Ashe Choral Society presents the annual holiday concert at Ashe Civic Center with both secular and sacred music. Admission is $12 for adults, and $5 for students.
Continuing the holiday events, the downtown West Jefferson merchants present:
Dec. 10: Hometown Christmas Social - come enjoy hot chocolate and purchase goodies for your holiday entertaining or gift giving. Proceeds go to Ashe Really Cares. Judging for the ‘Old Hometown Decorating Contest’ sponsored by The Mountain Times. Shops open until 8 p.m.
Dec.17: Last Minute Shoppers Extravaganza! Participating stores will offer special sales while Santa, Mrs. Claus, elves and reindeer dash about the streets filling last minute wish lists, shops open until 8 p.m.
“This is a last hurrah for downtown businesses before the bleak winter begins,” said Steve Willingham of The Artist’s Theatre gallery and shop on Main Street. “We see so many for sale and for rent signs, my wife, Lisa, and I thought this would be a way to brighten things up.”
The Willingham’s have joined with other downtown merchants to create “Hometown Christmas in West Jefferson” to encourage folks to shop locally and “keep their cash in Ashe,” to coin a phrase from Chamber Director Cabot Hamilton.
If you’ve noticed the small Christmas trees in pots on the streets, these have been donated by Mayor Dale Hudler, with the pots purchased by the merchants through their own fundraising. Willingham said they wanted to have 50 live trees to place all over town, but got such a late start on planning they were only able to get 15 this year. The merchants have been working together to get lighting for the trees, and anticipate using a type of solar lights to avoid having power cords strung out everywhere. The merchants are decorating the Community Christmas Tree in the Backstreet Park, to be located on the stage, and volunteers are needed to help decorate the downtown trees.
Willingham is excited about the holiday season this year in West Jefferson and hopes folks will come out and enjoy the activities.
“The more people come to West Jefferson, they’re so impressed,” he said. “It’s so hectic in Boone and Blowing Rock, and of course we want the business too, but the less frenzied atmosphere is good for our Hometown Christmas. I really feel like when the economy gets better, West Jefferson will really take off and do well. We’re really glad to be here.”