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'It's magical'

Holiday Market welcomes in the season

Barry Berta, of Coal City, looks through the different flavors of Dave's Coffeecakes at the 3 French Hens Holiday Market Friday night at the Grundy County Fairgrounds in Morris.
Barry Berta, of Coal City, looks through the different flavors of Dave's Coffeecakes at the 3 French Hens Holiday Market Friday night at the Grundy County Fairgrounds in Morris.

Despite Saturday's unseasonably warm temperatures, the Grundy County Fairgrounds was covered with snowmen.

Handmade paper mache snowmen wearing jackets, riding bicycles and pulling snowmen children in wagons greeted guests at the main building of the 3 French Hens Holiday Market Saturday.

The snowmen were made by Patti Agnoletti and Kathy Pribble, who were selling their decorations at the holiday market. The market had about 96 vendors and was held in four buildings at the fairgrounds this year.

Last year was the first time the 3 French Hens Holiday Market was held at the fairgrounds, and it was only in two buildings then, said Traci Tessone, the co-creator of the 3 French Hens Farmer's Market and owner of Whimsy in downtown Morris. The other creator is Monica Vogel, owner of Ruby Begonia’s, also in downtown.

This was the fourth year for the holiday market and the third year Agnoletti and Pribble have attended. The ladies came with about 80 items Friday night. By mid-morning Saturday they were down to much less than half of their available items, Agnoletti saidd. The market was open Friday night and all day Saturday.

Each snowfolk is handmade, many almost life size, and given their own name.

"When we get done with them, we just say 'Oh my gosh, this looks like a Henry,'" she said.

The ladies' creations were just the items to get shoppers in the mood to buy holiday decorations and gifts.

"This year we had a lot more vendors. In fact, we had to turn some away," Tessone said.

"This market gets people in the mood, especially the night one," she continued. "You just think it's magical."

Three-year-old Stella Tarmann of Montgomery, Ill., received an early Christmas gift while shopping with her mother Stephanie Tarmann. Stella carried her new sock monkey wearing a purple princess dress.

"She's my favorite ... can I get another monkey?" asked Stella of her mom.

The shopping adventure was the mother and daugther's first time at the holiday market.

"We went to the summer one by the canal and we really liked the unique crafters," Stephanie Tarmann said. "We thought the prices were really reasonable, so we wanted to come back and check it out for gifts."

Shoppers found Christmas decorations from angel figurines to life-size Santas, as well as clothes, handmade jewelry and baked goods. Fresh cut Christmas trees and wreathes were also available from Kringle's Tree Factory in New Lenox, Ill.

The trees come from land in Michigan, said Steve Stagno of the tree factory. The live trees have become more and more popular, as well as other fresh decorations they have requested every year, Stagno said.

This was the Kringle's Tree Factory's first year at the market. They were invited by Vogel because having a tree vendor is always a big hit, he said.

Friends Lindsey Hamer of Sandwich, Ill., and Jonanne Britt of Somonauk, Ill., brought home numerous Christmas decorations, including small gold Christmas trees, glitter reindeer and jingle bells.

"It's nice to be able to shop local for Christmas gifts and to support them," Hamer said.

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