Do you wish the European Christmas markets weren’t so far away? Well, you’re not the only one. One of the favorite activities of military wives stationed in Europe is attending the annual Christmas markets. Military spouse clubs have long held holiday bazaars as fundraisers for their clubs’ scholarship and grant programs.
A club has established itself in a traditional European market in its own right. The Lewis-McChord Spouses Club near Tacoma, Washington, decided to bring this tradition to the Pacific Northwest with their Kris Kringle Market. It takes place on November 18 and 19, 2022. It is a family event inspired by European Christmas markets. This is not a small club bazaar, but rather a huge holiday market held at the Thurston County Fairgrounds.
What Makes This Holiday Market Special
The volunteers of the Lewis-McChord Spouses Club worked hard to bring this event to fruition. “The 2nd Annual Kris Kringle Market presented by the Lewis-McChord Spouses Club is designed as a traditional European Christmas Market. There are over 60 artisan and artisan vendors as well as a dozen food trucks. We will have our beer garden again; however, it will be indoors this year!
“Come and get your hot glühwein, beer and cider while you sit inside and enjoy one of the delicious meals offered by the food vendors! The Kids Zone is available on Saturday, November 19 until 5 p.m. Tickets to the Kids Zone give every child exclusive and unlimited access to the inflatable obstacle course, games and crafts An amazing family event that will give everyone a European feeling right here in the northwest of the Pacific,” said Karin Maggipinto, president of the Lewis-McChord Spouses Club.
What is Gluhwein?
Gluhwein literally translates to “shiny wine”. It is a popular mulled wine traditionally served at Christmas markets in Germany to keep customers warm while strolling through the markets. It is a spiced wine served hot with ingredients that include a dry red wine such as Merlot or Pinot Noir – although some recipes call for a sweeter wine such as a Bordeaux or Port – cardamom pods, chilli from the Jamaica, cloves, star anise, cinnamon sticks, sugar, and oranges. With a variety of vintners and Glühwein stalls on the market, you’ll find that no two recipes are the same. I’m not a fan, but I find it tastes much better on a cold day at the market.
Events and experiences not to be missed
According to Maggipinto, “Krampus Seattle and Krampus Bremerton come both nights! They go not being at Leavenworth this year, so it’s a fantastic opportunity to see them without the drive. You won’t want to miss the live glass blowing bus from Lefty’s Glass, or having your hand painted with henna, or the Spouses’ Club Summit Shoppe which will feature exclusive items honoring JBLM. We offer families VIP experiences to shop early and drink cocoa or cider with Santa before the market opens to the public. There’s also a Krampus Nacht experience for ages 21 and up every night. There is something for every taste!”
Holiday music will fill the air during the event to help get visitors into the holiday spirit. Buy a new Christmas wreath and discover the variety of handmade products. Don’t miss the local food trucks; many have a cult in the area.
What is a Krampus and a Krampusnacht?
A Krampus is a half-goat, half-demon monster that legend punished children for misbehaving during the Christmas season, but the story’s roots date back to pagan times. Krampusnacht traditionally takes place on December 5 and is a weird European pastime that involves grown men dressed as Krampus running around scaring children. Large amounts of alcohol are also involved. The Kris Kringle Market version is much more docile. Buy it Krampusnacht VIP Experience for $20. The ticket includes four 6-ounce beers from the Biergarten, glassware from SCLM, and an encounter with Krampus Seattle.
Foods to try and gifts to buy
“Whether you like Mexican cuisine, steaks, burgers, etc., or you like the arts and crafts, there will be something for everyone. Various traders will be happy to share their talent or tailor-made items with you. We will have traditional Christmas market treats such as caramel apples, fudge, specialty coffee drinks, hot cocoa, hot cider,” Maggipinto said.
Popular returning vendors from last year include Pine & Moss with great gift ideas, Doppio’s Coffee, Harley’s Treats USA, which sells dog treats and is a veteran-owned business, and All Da Gnomies. One of my favorites is Plummer Craft & Woodworking, which will have a variety of Christmas-themed wooden crafts, including ornaments, Santa’s snack boards, Christmas signs, and a variety of Christmas-themed items. Pacific Northwest.
Support local nonprofits with your visit
The Lewis-McChord Spouses Club is teaming up with Krampus Seattle and Bremerton to collect toys for Santa’s Castle on JBLM. The toys will directly benefit E5 and lower military families with children who need support this year with Christmas gifts. Santa’s Castle is an annual event at Joint Base Lewis-McChord where those in need can shop for their families at no cost. Santa’s Castle even throws out wrapping paper. Proceeds from the Kris Kringle Market will go to the SCLM Community Grants Fund which will be awarded to non-profit organizations in the Thurston/Pierce County area that directly impact the lives of service members and their families at JBLM.
Why I love Kris Kringle Market 2022 so much
It will be the 2n/a year when the Kris Kringle Market is held, and there is a lot of buzz this year as more and more people discover the market. It brings back fond memories of the European markets I visited during my stay in Germany. There’s something so festive about shopping at Kris Kringle Market. The Christmas spirit abounds and I feel great about shopping at local small businesses, many of which are military spouses or veteran owned. Handcrafted items seem to be less commercialized and many vendors offer Pacific Northwest themed items.
Tips for visiting
“Get your VIP tickets for a private shopping experience on Saturday, November 19 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. There are only 100 Saturday VIP tickets to purchase with two options: 1.) Family of up to 4, and 2.) Family of 5 or Suite. Adults also have a VIP-only option: VIP Beer Garden Passes! Tickets are available online for both days for General Admission and the Kid’s Zone.
“Buy your tickets in advance to shorten your wait at the entrance to the exhibition center and save money! Prices are rising at the door,” Maggipinto said. VIP tickets are very reasonably priced so visitors can splurge without spending a lot while raising money for non-profit organizations. Pacific Northwest weather during the cooler months varies, so check the weather report and dress accordingly.
The Thurston County Fairgrounds
The Thurston County Fairgrounds is in the town of Lacey and is easily accessible via Interstate 5. The market will be held indoors and outdoors.
Directions to Lacey on I-5 South: Take exit 109 and turn left onto Martin Way. Take Martin Way to Carpenter Road. Turn right on Carpenter and follow approximately 3 miles to the Fairgrounds. The exhibition center will be on your left.
Directions to Lacey on I-5 North: Take exit 109 and turn right onto Martin Way. Take Martin to Carpenter Road. Turn right on Carpenter and follow approximately 3 miles to the Fairgrounds. The exhibition center will be on your left.