Christmas spirits riding high along the 211

·3 min read

SHERBROOKE – Though the COVID-19 pandemic has derailed the traditional Old-Fashioned Christmas at Historic Sherbrooke Village, an intrepid troop of local artisans and entrepreneurs are vowing to keep the holiday cheer high this year.

Cindy Kingwell, Victoria Lambourne and Deborah Jordan are the brain trust behind the first Christmas on the 211 community bazaar, scheduled for November 14 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and 15 (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) at locations along the main road between Port Bickerton and Stillwater. The organizers hope to make this an annual event.

“Victoria and I both thought that there were a number of artisans, makers, etc. on the 211 highway, and that we could pull this off,” Kingwell said. “We reached out to Deborah to run the idea by her and from there we decided to go for it.”

Noting that the event has recruited 18 vendors to date, she added, “The goal is to offer people the opportunity to enjoy a day in our area, to see all the wonderful products that are available; hand-crafted, local-made products available right in your own community. Support local. Meet the makers.”

According to Leigh MacFarlane, president and CEO of the Nova Scotia Soap Company in Cherry Hill, the initiative couldn’t have come at a better time.

“The past few years I’ve sensed a creative, entrepreneurial energy growing on the 211,” she said. “So, when I heard about this wonderful initiative I was thrilled. Hard times can bring about meaningful change and I see this event as an optimistic expression of our determination to grow something good.”

MacFarlane, who provided advice to the founders, added: “This event is a first step toward creating a year-round roster of reasons for folks to visit our lovely stretch of the Eastern Shore. I am so grateful to be part of this community of creative people and to the ladies who got it all started.”

For now, the event will showcase local sea glass items and jewellery, historic photos, preserves, soaps, candles, one-of-a-kind pieces, knit wear, paintings, chainsaw creations, chocolate, greenery, rugs and baked goods, among other products. Hot dogs, sausages, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, pop and baked goods will also be available at the old Lakeside Restaurant, as well as various lunch items at Whitney’s Corner Store in Port Bickerton.

The pandemic has made safety a priority.

“We will be following all COVID 19 protocols,” Kingwell said. “People must wear a mask and use hand sanitizer before entering a location. We will be limiting the number of patrons and vendors to 10 at all times in the buildings. We are requesting that patrons [practice] social distance. Signage will direct people.”

Despite the precautions, she emphasized, “It’s about creating something fun, while trying to get people to buy local, especially during these pandemic times. My hope and vision is to make this an annual event, a destination, something fun for the whole family … There are very limited opportunities for small artisans to show their wares this year.”

The Old-Fashioned Christmas at Historic Sherbrooke Village each November and December has been a holiday staple for years, providing a venue for local artisans, bakers, and artists, and attracting thousands of people from all over the province with period dress, meals and performances.

For precise locations and other information, check out Christmas on the 211 on Facebook.

Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal