Town opens holiday season with 10-hour festival

Children tell Santa and Mrs. Claus what they want for Christmas during a visit to the New Market Area Library on Saturday. Lewis Millholland/Daily

NEW MARKET – The town celebrated its annual Tis the Season holiday festival on Saturday.

The 10-hour event featured open houses and special deals at local shops, an open market with area vendors and Christmas music playing through speakers, the parade on Congress Street, the tree lighting ceremony, and Santa and Mrs. Claus visiting the library at the end of the evening.

“Each year we have a tremendous turnout,” said Mayor Douglas Bradley. “We have the parade, we throw out candy to the kids, then we all gather (by the town municipal building) for refreshments. It’s just great. It’s a great kick-off for the season.”

Town officials couldn’t remember how many Tis the Seasons New Market has been put on. In the past, several local organizations held their own versions of the festival, but the unified collaboration between the town, the library, the New Market Chamber of Commerce and local merchants has gone on somewhere between five and seven years.

However, one tidbit hasn’t been lost to history: the name of the festival. Peggy Harkness, a town council member and library volunteer director, came up with Tis the Season.  She’s participated in the festival ever since.

“I love all of it. I was at the open market today, I was in Jackson’s Corner Cafe, I was in the parade. I love all of it. But I have to say, I love coming to the library,” Harkness said. “I love seeing the parents and the grandparents here. We have Mr. and Mrs. Santa back there, we have face-painting in one of our areas and the parents and the kids can come in and really enjoy kind of culminating the day this way.”

Of all the events occurring during the 10-hour festival, the mayor had a clear favorite.

“I think the parade is probably my favorite part of it,” Bradley said. “A lot of activity, everybody’s happy, the kids are excited, they’re handing out free candy, it’s just a beautiful night, it really is.”

Bradley said the Tis the Season festival is New Market’s biggest event each year.

“It’s just great to see the turnout we have here, you, it’s a small town,” Bradley said. “The people who turned out for us here tonight, it’s great. The people, it’s just good for the town. It’s great. I love it.”