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Decking the halls: Franklin adds winter market to ceremony

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Christmas is still over a month away.

But organizers of Franklin’s annual lighting ceremony want the throngs of people who come down for the lights to know they will have a chance to scratch a few names off their shopping lists, as well.

Downtown Franklin will host a one-day winter market focused entirely on Indiana-made goods as part of the lighting ceremony. Nearly 40 local growers, artisans, bakers and crafters can sell their goods to the public in a setting similar to the city’s farmers market, even as cold weather settles into the Midwest.

A wide variety of wares, including herbs, winter squash, hot-pepper sauce and hand-crafted wooden ornaments, will be available to buy.

“It’s festive to see what people have, and everyone is shopping for Christmas gifts,” said Megan Hart, executive director of Discover Downtown Franklin. “It gives them something to do, a way to get out of the cold, more than just Santa and the lighting.”

The market is an extension of the city’s summer markets, which have seen growing popularity the past three years, Hart said. Last year, they wanted to find some way to tap into that momentum even after the warmer months had passed.

“We didn’t want that to stop after such a good summer,” Hart said. “We thought we’d try this and see how people respond.”

Previous holiday lighting ceremonies featured a craft bazaar, which didn’t draw many customers. Organizers decided to tap into the increasingly popular local food movement by offering a place where people could sell produce, baked goods, jellies and jams, as well as crafts, Hart said.

Last year, close to 30 vendors signed up to take part. That number stands at 38 this year, with applications being accepted until Friday. People started calling in August hoping to reserve a space in the market, Hart said.

Joyce Miller of Rushville attended the market last year. She offered her line of herbal products, which included dips, skin-care products, cheese balls and jellies such as blackberry sage and strawberry lavender.

Being able to sell in the winter gave her a boost in the normally slow colder months, she said.

“It’s great exposure. With all of those people down there, I had really good sales that I don’t get,” Miller said.

While the market is generating excitement among vendors and shoppers, the real purpose of the day is to kick off the holidays with a series of lighted displays.

An illuminated parade and display at the Indiana Masonic Home will get the crowd fired up for the main lighting of the courthouse square. Choral and dance performances, kids’ games and carriage, bus and fire truck rides will help keep attendees entertained as well.

The Historic Artcraft Theatre will show the classic holiday movie “A Christmas Story,” and Santa will pose for pictures at the Johnson County Museum of History throughout the afternoon. Museum visitors also will be able to holiday trees decorated by local organizations.

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