Thanksgiving weekend is a time for family and feasting. It’s a time to slow down our busy lives for a few hours and have some good old-fashioned conversation and a family dinner. Some families huddle around the day’s football games or Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade while others play cards, go for a walk or volunteer their time to help the less fortunate have a safe and warm holiday as well. After the plates are cleared, the lead up to Christmas officially begins. There will be Black Friday shoppers eager to get in line early for door-busting deals, but many have come to find a more relaxed and fun place to get in some early holiday shopping.
It was the early ‘90s, when the idea for Winterfest came up at Peninsula High School. Then Assistant Principal Jan Carroll and ASB Advisor Ben Lieurence wanted to host a winter market that would be put on by students as a way of not only fundraising but teaching event planning and organizing as well. Now more than 25 years later, you will find a well-oiled machine and more than 200 unique vendors at the annual weekend festival.
“Winterfest is a fun event showcasing local artists, many with one-of-a-kind designs! Said Sandi Malich. “We have great food, music and a very festive atmosphere.”
Malich has been the event organizer the past 25 years and is always looking forward to the big weekend. Working with ASB Advisor Danielle O’Leary, Winterfest is one of the primary focuses for the Peninsula High School Leadership class and introduces students into all aspects and phases of the sale with planning that begins far in advance.
“Our students work with parking, decorating the building, vendor support (hospitality room), and advertising, to name a few,” said O’Leary.
The show has become so popular that potential vendors are asked to submit photos of their items in the spring, and the list of accepted applications is usually out in the early part of summer. This is done so there are not several booths featuring similar offerings, and that shoppers will have access to a wide range of items.
On the day of the sale, dozens of students can be seen helping out in all areas and behind the scenes. Some help to set up booths and direct vendors to their assigned areas. Others help unload vehicles and deliver goods inside. Student-run food and drink areas are found in the lunchroom, and various music groups will also be performing during the two-day event. When Winterfest concludes, students help take unsold items back to vendor vehicles and also handle the teardown of tables and booths. Learning how to come up with a plan and execute it while dealing with any problems that come up is a valuable lesson for these high schoolers—true hands-on learning.
While many vendors come back each year, there will always be new items to explore, and with so many booths, there is sure to be something for everyone on your list.
“We usually have over 200 vendors, and many items are handmade items: Christmas ornaments, wood designs, food, metal art, handmade cards, one-of-a-kind items, to name a few,” said O’Leary.
Once inside you’ll find vendors set up in the north and south gymnasiums, the hallway between them and the school’s commons. A variety of items and a showcase of local talent await you, and the festive atmosphere will put your right smack in the middle of the Christmas season.
Winterfest 2018 is Saturday, November 24, and Sunday, November 25. Hours are 9am to 5pm Saturday and 11am to 4pm on Sunday. Admission is $5 and proceeds from the sale help fund the after-school clubs, athletics and the ASB.
Winterfest brings crafters and artists from around the state and presents not only a great opportunity to get a lot of early shopping done all in one place, but you will also be directly helping fund after-school programs that so many teens are happy and thankful to be a part of.
“Come down and joins us and pick up some unique one-of-a-kind gifts for family, friends and yourself,” said Malich.
There is parking on site and carpooling is encouraged. If you would like more information or to contact Winterfest about becoming a vendor, visit PHSWinterfest.com
Kick off your Christmas season with a stop at this fun market, show local teens you appreciate their hard work and efforts, and check a few gifts off your list early so your holiday can be a little easier with the focus again on family, food, and being thankful for the many blessings in life.