MENOMONIE — The first snow of the season has fallen in the Chippewa Valley, and with it comes a few other tell-tale signs of the holidays.
Local theatres are putting on festive productions, Christmas trees are already popping up in residential windows and the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts, 205 Main St. E., is bringing back it’s annual Holiday Artisan Market for the first time since 2019.
Originally named the Christmas Fair in 1991, then renamed the Mabel Tainter Fine Arts and Crafts Fair in 1999, the newly renamed event has been a holiday staple of the Menomonie community for around 30 years.
The Mabel Holiday Artisan Market kicks off at the iconic theatre today and runs through Saturday.
Deb Halley, Visual Arts Coordinator at the Mabel, said 37 artisan vendors will be spread across all three floors of the theatre. This year’s market has been slightly downsized from previous years, Halley said, to accommodate for COVID-19 safety protocols. Additionally, all attendees will be asked to wear masks. In 2019, almost 2,000 visitors attended the two-day-long market.
Some of the vendors selling their artwork, crafts or food at this year’s Holiday Artisan Market are Helen’s Daughters Handbags, Carla Brown Art, Inga Orth of St. Isidore’s Dairy and Mindy Huntress Art.
“We have great art and you’re going to find some wonderful Christmas gifts or holiday presents or birthday presents,” Halley said during a phone interview. “And (the Mabel) is just so beautiful. So many people have never been there. And to be able to wander around and look at all of the great architecture and the history is wonderful.”
This will mark Mindy Huntress’s first time selling her acrylic paintings, prints and merchandise at the Mabel Holiday Artisan Market. She is currently based in Eau Claire.
“I am excited to be part of the Mabel Tainter Holiday show because I grew up in Menomonie and have many fond memories of the theater,” Huntress said in an emailed statement. “The market is hosting many artists that I look forward to seeing. It’s a great experience to watch other artists grow in the community.”
Though the name of the market has changed and the Mabel is welcoming a few new vendors, Halley says the spirit behind the event remains the same.
“I just really hope a lot of people take the time to come and enjoy the building and the great art,” Halley said. “I have a lot of new vendors this year. If people have come in the past and think it’s going to be the same old thing, there’s probably around 10 new artists. We hope to see them there.”