The historic town of Harmony returned to its German roots over the weekend with the annual WeihnachtsMarkt.
Based on the Christmas market held in Germany, the WeihnachtsMarkt is sponsored by the Harmony Museum and featured a variety of German foods, crafts, antiques, horse-drawn wagon rides, German dancers and much more.
Although she didn’t have a head count for Sunday, Kathy Luek, administrator at Historic Harmony Inc., said about 2,000 people attended the WeihnachtsMarkt on Saturday. Typically, she said, about 4,000 to 5,000 people from around the greater Pittsburgh area attend the annual event, which is now in its 15th year.
“We started out very small just in Stewart Hall and with a little food,” she said. “Six year ago, we really expanded to use all the space.”
Filling the outdoor venue were vendors dressed in lederhosen, a man selling hot pretzels slung from an oversized pitchfork, families, and some students belonging to German clubs from area school districts.
“We had a whole busload of students from the greater Latrobe area,” Luek said.
New this year was beer tasting held in the cavernous stone wine cellar of Stewart Hall. A co-owner and master brewer at Full Pint Brewing Company, Harmony native Jake Kristophel said he brought his wares to the Christmas market in the hopes of raising awareness of the brewery. Along with his partners, Kristophel is opening a pub within a few week in the North Versailles area. The pub will feature Full Pint creations.
The Seneca Valley graduate added that he grew up attending the WeihnachtsMarkt. His father, Gregg Kristophel, also had a booth at the market featuring carved wooden items from his company, Riverwood Trading.
“I know everyone who runs the whole thing,” Kristophel said. “We’ve had a great response. I went though a whole case of business cards.”
Also a first time vendor was Sherry Cepek, owner of The Enchanted Olive in Harmony. Like Kristophel, Cepek said the event was a great way to call attention to her business, which specializes in olive oils and balsamic vinegars. As a vendor at the market, Cepek said she met people from all over the Pittsburgh area.
“I’m still trying to get the word out about the store,” she said.
The event also featured Gluwien, a traditional German mulled spiced wine, and wine samples from the Volant Mill Winery in Volant (which also has a retail store in Adams Township) and the Rustic Acres Winery in Butler.
Luek said the WeihnachtsMarkt is Historic Harmony’s biggest fundraiser of the year. All proceeds from the admission price to enter the market go toward running the Harmony Museum.
“It’s just a great time,” Luek said.
(All photos by JimmeB Photography)