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Christkindlmarkt bringing old world holiday charm to Fargo Civic Center

The German-themed event featuring food, drinks, shopping and games will take place from Thursday, Nov. 17 to Sunday, Nov. 20.

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Christkindlmarkt opens Thursday night, Nov. 17, 2022 at the Fargo Civic Center.
Contributed / M.Schleif Photography
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FARGO — In the past, people visited the Fargo Civic Center for concerts, basketball games and boat shows. This week it will be more like visiting a European market.

Christkindlmarkt returns to the space Thursday through Sunday to offer a taste of a German Christmas bazaar.

The annual event is in its sixth year and second at the Civic Center.

“It worked out really well for us last year,” says Simone Wai, co-founder and creative director of Folkways, which also produces cultural events like the Red River Market, the Night Bazaar, the Canoe Parade and public art around downtown Fargo.

Wai says the Civic Center offers a good mix of indoor and outdoor space allowing for expanded programming, with 13 different makers as well as commemorative ceramic mugs by Hayden Swanson of Livin’ the Dream Pottery and ornaments designed by local artist Brett Lysne of Sandwich Club Design. The ornaments are made by the Vocational Training Center, which supports individuals with disabilities. Sales of both mugs and ornaments support Christkindlmarkt.

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Shops are set up at Christkindlmarkt.
Contributed / M.Schleif Photography

This year, there is more of an emphasis on bringing in bigger bands and giving the audience room to dance. Featured acts this year include Brass Interference, the JT Kennelly Band, Walking Phoenix, Cropdusters, Poitin, Hartford Street Brass and polka from Matt Hodek & The Dakota Dutchmen.

The music is part of the bierhall atmosphere organizers will create inside the arena along with crafters and food vendors, like local favorites 701 Eateries, Deb’s Corner Foods & Catering, Maria’s Homestyle Mexican Food , Mac Daddy’s and Windsor Waffles.

“We really need that arena space for all of the vendors,” Wai says.

New this year will be Crave American Kitchen & Sushi Bar. While Folkways focuses on working with small businesses, bringing in a regional chain like Crave was too good to pass up.

“They came to us with an awesome menu,” she says. “We wanted to do more with Scandinavian and German flavors and they’ll be serving up knoephla soup, German pretzels, lefse and tater tot hotdish.

“We want to offer vendors a variety of food,” she says. “It helps so much if you can have a full commercial kitchen available. Sometimes you need more backup and infrastructure.”

The indoor space also works better for some of the non-musical entertainment, like stilt-walkers and FM Aerial and Movement Arts spinning and flipping high above the crowd.

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FM Aerial and Movement Arts will perform at this year's Christkindlmarkt.
Contributed / M.Schleif Photography

Sunday will also include the opportunity for free photos with Santa Claus.

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While much of the event will be happening inside, there will be plenty going on outside, like fires for making s’mores and Old Tyme Kettle Korn popping up fresh savory puffs of corn, which Wai says will be a treat for the senses.

“We love that this event is indoors and outdoors. People want something to do outdoors in winter and we value having an outdoor space,” she says. “It gives the event that old world classic holiday feel.”

With temperature highs only reaching about 20 degrees during the four-day run, Wai is urging attendees to dress for the weather.

“It’s definitely going to be the coldest one we’ve ever had,” she says, adding that outdoor vendors have heaters in their huts.

Cheese caterer Milkmade will also have a food truck to take orders for holiday charcuterie boards.

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Games like Hammerschlagen were popular at the 2021 Christkindlmarkt.
Contributed / M.Schleif Photography

Last year the event attracted about 30,000 people and Wai says even with the cold weather they could see more this year.

Christkindlmarkt started out behind the downtown Fargo Twenty Below Coffee Co., then moved to the Avalon Events Center and then Drekker Brewing Co. The beermaker is still a big part of the event and will be selling brews and seasonal offerings like mulled glubier, with a portion of proceeds going to help fund the event.

Wai says there’s the possibility that after Drekker opens its new Brewhalla market and events space early next year that Christkindlmarkt could move back there for the holidays in 2023.

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“We always keep our options open for all of our events. We’re definitely excited to see the new space when it’s open and maybe we would do other Folkways events there.”

If you’re interested in helping, Wai is still looking for volunteers to work shifts as greeters, stoking fires and working with kids on crafts.

If you go

WHAT: Christkindlmarkt
WHEN: 4 to 10 p.m., Thursday and Friday, noon to 10 p.m., Saturday and noon to 6 p.m., Sunday
WHERE: Fargo Civic Center
INFO: This event is free and open to all ages. Visit folkways.org to learn more.

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