Harmony Museum’s Annual WeihnachtsMarkt Attracts Thousands
Oct 31, 2017 05:16PM
● By Shelly Tower Rushe
Each year, Harmony’s National Historic Landmark District briefly transforms into WeihnachtsMarkt, a traditional German Christmas market. The event is spearheaded by the Harmony Museum, which is governed by the nonprofit society Historic Harmony.
The event began as a small craft show, but it started so long ago that Gwen Lutz, chairman of the Events Committee and vice president of Historic Harmony, can’t pinpoint exactly how or when the event morphed into Harmony Museum’s largest fundraiser. “It’s been around 18 years,” she said.
The two-day event attracts thousands who enjoy the German-style vendors, music, museum exhibits and more. Entertainment will be on hand both days, with both traditional and modern offerings. The Pittsburgh Maennercor Alpen Schuhplattlers, the dance group of the Pittsburgh German Club will perform traditional dances such as clogging, log dance, maypole and more on both days of the festival.
On Saturday only, the AUTOBAHN Band will be performing German and Bavarian music, as well as polka and classic rock. “They play a little bit of everything,” said Lutz.
On Sunday only, local youth show choir the StrandTastics will perform. The choir is based out of Zelienople’s The Strand theatre and specializes in show tunes under the direction of Mary Ann Mangini.
While you’re enjoying the shows, be sure to grab a snack. The museum will be offering bratwurst, hot dogs, hot German potato salad and more. There will also be food vendors selling German pretzels, roasted nuts and crepes. Volant Winery will be offering wine tastings and McClaughlin Distillery will have samples of their moonshine on hand. Guests will also have the opportunity to purchase a souvenir mug that can be filled with Gluhwein (a German-style hot mulled wine) or apple cider.
Can’t find what you want to eat at the festival? No problem! “Harmony Inn and Wunderbar Coffee & Crepes are right down the road,” said Lutz. “Our neighborhood shops participate in the event as well.”
Besides the food offerings, the museum will have two brand new exhibits for this year’s event. The first is a mini train display with a German twist. “It’s a true Bavarian mountain village,” said Lutz. They’ll also have a nutcracker collection on display. All museum exhibits, as well as horse-drawn carriage rides, are included with the admission price.
Of course, the main part of the Christmas Market is, well, the market. With over 50 vendors, it’s the perfect place to start your holiday shopping. Products will include hand-thrown pottery, handspun yarn, rugs, and scarves, clock repairs and sales, hand-carved wooden utensils, handcrafted egg pendants in the Faberge style, maple syrup products, handcrafted soaps, jewelry, hand-carved holiday items, handmade copper jewelry, stained glass and much more.
The festival runs from Saturday, Nov. 11 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 12 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors, $3 for students, and free for children younger than six. Admission includes all-day access to the market and museum, entertainment and wagon rides.
Can’t make the Christmas Market? That’s ok, because there’s always the Silvester Celebration. Be there on December 31 from noon to 6 p.m. (which is 6 p.m.-midnight German time) and you’ll be able to take tours of the museum, witness the Christmas Tree Throwing Contest, and participate in Bleigiessen, the German tradition of examining melted lead dropped into water as a way of foretelling the new year. Visit www.harmonymuseum.org for more information on all of the upcoming events.