Medford gets in holiday spirit with local events

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With the holidays approaching, many local residents are left wondering what events are being held nearby to help celebrate the season. In Medford and the surrounding area, there are a number of events being offered that people of all ages can enjoy.

Kicking off December, the Pinelands Library will host an event called “Christmas, the Old Fashioned Way” on Friday, Dec. 2 at 2 p.m. Designed for adults and seniors, the event will allow residents to whet their appetites with a history of Yuletide traditions and practices. The Yuletide is a festival observed by the historical Germanic peoples, later undergoing Christianised reformulation resulting in the now better-known “Christmastide.”

The following day, the Medford Sunrise Rotary will present the 27th annual Dickens Festival on Saturday, Dec. 3 in downtown Medford. This family friendly event will take place from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and promises to be a magical time for children and grown-ups alike.

For one night every year, Main Street in Medford is transformed into a quaint winter wonderland with dimly lit lampposts and stores with twinkling lights that features holiday festivities galore with an old time flair. The festival typically attracts more than 10,000 people from within Medford and from many surrounding communities.

Exciting things get underway around 5:45 p.m., when a parade heralded by the town crier transports Santa, Mrs. Claus and an elf or two to the gazebo in the center of the downtown Village, located at 18 N. Main St.

New this year will be Marshall Steve’s pony rides. There will also be an ice carver sculpting a special holiday surprise, a moon bounce with a “Frozen” theme, the Give ‘n Take jugglers, Stockton-Brown stilt-walkers, a face painter, a town crier on a penny farthing bicycle, the always popular Live Nativity at Tomlinson Park in front of the library and outdoor movies located at Union and Main streets. There will also be plenty of delicious food and beverages available, provided by a variety of local vendors.

“There will be food vendors to satisfy every appetite from cheese steaks to crab cakes to kettle corn and everything in between,” Linda Mackey, the organizer of the event, said. “Bring your holiday shopping list — there will be many different crafters to meet all those wish list items.”

For more information, visit www.MedfordPolice.org the week prior to the festival. A listing of directions and Medford Village parking areas can be found at www.medfordtownship.com/events, and handicapped parking will be available.

Then, the Shawnee Band Parents Association will host its annual indoor Holiday Craft and Gift Fair on Saturday, Dec. 10 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Shawnee High School, located at 600 Tabernacle Road. Proceeds will benefit the high school’s band programs.

“The craft fair benefits Shawnee’s State Championship Band by providing necessary funds to continue its tradition of excellence,” David Gutwirth, the show’s director, said. “New to the fair this year, parents will have a chance to take their own pictures with Santa.”

Featured at this free event will be more than 130 vendors offering unique crafts, gourmet treats, gifts, holiday items and direct sales products. Refreshments will also be on sale in the school cafeteria for holiday shoppers along with a gift basket raffle and bake sale to support the scholarship fund.

“The Shawnee Craft Fair provides an opportunity for area residents to shop for unique and personal gifts from more than 130 local crafters and direct sales vendors just in time for the holidays,” Gutwirth said.

New this year will be an appearance by Santa Claus from 9 a.m. to noon. The event will welcome families to visit with Santa and take their own pictures free of charge. For more information, call (609) 975–9469 or email shscraftshow@fastmail.com.

A few other school events and activities will be held over the course of the next two months. For example, Shawnee High School will be hosting its annual choral concert on Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. along with its annual instrumental music concert on Dec. 20 at 7 p.m.

Then, right before Christmas, the Pinelands Branch Library will host “Wrapping up the Holidays,” on Thursday, Dec. 22 at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 24 at 2:15 p.m. This event will provide attendees with a few tricks to make gift wrapping easier, neater and much less stress inducing. Wrapping, tape and ribbon will be provided at the events, which are designed for teens, adults and seniors. The limit for the event is two items wrapped per person.

Additionally, Medford United Methodist Church will host its handbell and handchime concert on the following Sunday, Dec. 18 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m, and, as far as school events go, the Medford Memorial Middle School will be holding its yearly holiday shop on Friday, Dec. 9 at 3 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 10 at 10 a.m. The school will also be hosting its annual winter choral concert on Thursday, Jan. 19 at 7 p.m.

Burlington County

The Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders is once again presenting the Victorian Holiday Celebration this December. Kick off the Holiday Season at Historic Smithville Park on Dec. 4 from noon to 4 p.m., complete with a visit from St. Nick who will arrive at 1 p.m. by horse and carriage. Be sure to bring a camera to capture special memories.

Festivities will include the Holiday Marketplace and various entertainment. The marketplace will feature vendors, carriage rides from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., an ice carving demo and refreshments for sale.

Holiday entertainment will include music, strolling performers, children’s crafts, face painting, a visit from Mrs. Claus for story time and Smithville Mansion tours, which will have a nominal fee. Back by popular demand are Olaf, The Grinch, s’mores and train rides.

The Historic Smithville Park is located at 803 Smithville Road in Eastampton. Admission is free for the Victorian Holiday Celebration.

A Special Holiday Farmer’s Market Day will be Dec. 3 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Burlington County Community Agricultural Center, 500 Centerton Road in Moorestown. The market will feature fall fruits and vegetables, local cranberries and honey, artisan cheeses and chocolates, fresh pies and local crafters and artists. At the market will be the annual Toys For Tots Drive; new unwrapped toys will be accepted. Look into picking up a fresh holiday turkey, too. Bundle up, grab a warm scone and a hot coffee and enjoy live music at the Farmer’s Market. For more information, go to www.burlcoagcenter.com.

Free Family Candlelight Village Tours are Dec. 9, 10, 16 and 17 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Smithville Park. Take a family friendly tour through Smithville Village to learn about its history in the 1800s. Last stop is a visit with Mrs. Claus. Enjoy some hot chocolate and cookies, provided by the Friends of the Mansion at Smithville. Each child will receive a take home craft at the end of the tour, which runs approximately every 30 minutes. Other candlelight tours, Christmas tours and Christmas teas are available throughout December.

Whitesbog Historic Village in Browns Mills is having its annual Handmade Holiday Craft Show on Dec. 10 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Come into historic Whitesbog Village and explore the handmade arts and crafts from South Jersey artisans. There will be workshops, demonstrations and displays of one-of-a-kind items for holiday shopping. Children can enjoy a candy-cane hunt, and families can make holiday ornaments to take home. The event admission and parking are all free.

Artists and crafters will be selling their wares throughout the village in the cottages, museums and shops. The General Store will be offering a hot chocolate bar and winter snacks for guests including tastings of Whitesbog’s blueberry and cranberry jams. The Whitesbog Gallery will be showing works of member artists including many local photographers. There will also be live music at The General Store with the Accidental Jug Band.

For a full listing and information on Burlington County winter programs and events, visit www.co.burlington.nj.us/569/Programs-Events.

The Burlington County Sheriff’s Department is having its annual Holiday Toy Drive. Each year, the sheriff’s department solicits donations of toys for underprivileged children in the county, to help make each child’s holiday a happy and memorable one. The County Consumer Protection Department checks all toys for safety before they are released to the various human service agencies for distribution. To see drop-off locations and learn more about the Holiday Toy Drive, visit www.co.burlington.nj.us/161/Holiday-Toy-Drive.