Annual festivities show the heart and soul of the town, as young and old pitch in to create a holiday wonderland.
This year’s market will be held Dec. 4 -5 and Dec. 11-12, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on 6th street. Click here for more details.
By Summit Voice
GEORGETOWN — In 1960 Georgetown was a different place. There was no Interstate 70, virtually no homes north of 11th Street and the town’s population was 400 people — yet a boom was starting.
In the 1950s, Georgetown residents and merchants had combined to form the Georgetown Civic Association to promote what is now called heritage tourism. The town was attracting a growing number of on-the-road travelers, and some among those, from very foreign places, chose to stay.
Astrid and Stig Gusterman came from Sweden via New York and Denver to make their home in Georgetown. Annette Holmes came from Germany; others from around the country, including Holmes’ husband Bill, as well as Odette and Wally Baehler, all from from Chicago. The newcomers became Georgetown merchants: Silversmiths, artists, creative clothing designers and restaurateurs establishing the Red Ram.
In 1960, the entrepreneurs decided they would try to attract more winter business. Astrid and Stig recalled the Christmases of their childhood in Sweden, when communities gathered to celebrate and sell their wares in a Christmas Market. With the help of Odie and Annette, they launched the first Georgetown Christmas Market. In the early years, there were no booths or entertainment, but from the start, chestnuts roasted. The Santa Lucia wore her crown of lights and Buff’s horse-drawn sleigh carried carolers around the town.
The whole community participated in Market. Children gathered pine cones to be made into wreaths and swags, rolling beeswax into candles, and cut out the candelabra and Lucia doll forms. Town ladies baked, sewed, knitted, and painted ornaments. Almost all sale items were hand made in town. In late afternoon, the hay-stacked sleigh took the children to deliver Christmas baskets to the elderly, showing the town’s heart and Christmas spirit for visitors and locals alike.
As the years passed, booths were constructed along the side of Strousse Park. The number of craft vendors increased, dancers and singers provided entertainment, and Saint Nicholas arrived on the scene. Through Odie Baehler’s press connections, the Georgetown Christmas Market appeared frequently and in color on the pages of the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News, helping attendance grow. As the founders passed on, the Market planning passed to Kerstin Gusterman, Janice Moore and Patti Fraley, and then, when the law required, Historic Georgetown, Inc, stepped up as a nonprofit sponsor.
Fifty years later, Santa Lucia and star boys still parade the street, horses paw the ground, anxious to pull their sled. Carolers stroll, St. Nicholas gives out his candy canes and the craft booths are thriving. The market has grown, but Georgetown’s Christmas spirit is still the heart and soul of the event.
Georgetown Christmas Market celebrates 50 years!
Filed under: Summit County Colorado, Travel Tagged: | Clear Creek County, Colorado Christmas events, Colorado travel, Georgetown 50th annual Christmas Market, Georgetown Christmas Market, Georgetown Colorado, heritage tourism Colorado, Historic Georgetown, Saint Nicholas, Santa Lucia, Summit County Colorado, Summit County News