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Christmas 1917-style returns to American West Heritage Center

December 15th, 2011 Posted in Arts and Life

Story & photos by Nick Bolinder

WELLSVILLE — The American West Heritage Center celebrated Christmas with the return of its annual Christmas Festival with Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus.

The festival returned to the Heritage Center after a two-year hiatus. It was previously held for a whole month but was cut to two days for its return. “We condensed the festival to two days rather than the whole month becuase it is much easier on the vendors and the volunteers,” Anjanette Dahle, program manager, said. There were 60 volunteers for the festival.

One of them, Nancy Lincoln, has volunteered with her husband at the festival since 2003. “We have missed one Christmas because we lived in West Virginia,” Lincoln said. Lincoln was demonstrating how to make home made candy canes, a 200-year family tradition.

“My grandfather always made peppermint candy canes when I was growing up,” she said. Lincoln makes them in many different flavors today including rootbeer and kiwi-strawberry. “My father used to work at a pharmeceutical company working on flavor for children’s medicine,” she said. “He would bring home some of the leftover flavor to make candy canes.”

Sarah Weeks, Logan, brought her two children Steven, 6, and Anna, 2, to experience the festival. “It’s a lovely day, not too cold,” Weeks said, “and it’s always a good experience here.”

Weeks did not inform her children that Mr. and Mrs. Claus would be in attendance. Steven asked for a Transformer, Ana asked for a “stuffed doggie.”

All of the vendors provided home made products for the patrons to enjoy, soap made of goats milk and olive oil, handrafted woodwork, and home made cider were some of the many options.

“The goal of the festival is to show people how simple Christmas was in 1917,” Dahle said. “Everything was home made and we want to do that so people have the experience.”

Following the festival Saturday the Heritage Center hosted a wild west Christmas ball and big barn dance. Dahle said that they expected about 300-400 people to attend the festival over the weekend, and about 50 poeple for the dinner. Patrons received $1 off the price of admission for bringing a can of food to donate to the Food Pantry.


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