Hillsboro's Down Home Christmas attracts all ages

Staff writer

There seemed to be no age requirement for enjoyment during Down Home Christmas activities Saturday in Hillsboro. Toddlers smiled at Santa, children decorated cookies, youths sold hot chocolate, and adults sorted through jewelry, crafts, and antiques at several locations in town, looking for the right gift.

For a moment in time, 1-year-old Lauren Swaney enjoyed being the center of attention, while her sister, Carolyn, almost three, and her big brother Wilson, four, checked out Nativity scene characters in the former Molly’s on Main building.

Zion Lutheran Church members set up the nativity cutouts and provided story-times for children. They also sold baked goods and flea-market items to benefit the youth at their church.

Swaney’s parents, Dan and Kimberly, thought it would be a great opportunity to get some family Christmas pictures taken, but getting all three children to look the right way and smile at the right time proved difficult.

“There was just so much to look at,” Kimberly said. “We practiced at home, and we wanted the children were to sing a song to Baby Jesus, but it was hard to get them all to focus.”

There was also a lot to look at in Kessler Kreations where home-based businesses set up tables with items for sale, and children decorated cookies in a back room when they were not sitting on Santa’s lap in the front of the store.

“It was just a great day,” Marie Kessler said. “At one time I looked out and there wasn’t a parking place one open on Main Street. We really had a lot of out-of-towners come in to shop and we all did well on sales.”

After sampling hot chocolate sold by Amy Kerstner and friends on the sidewalk, many visitors and hometown folks made their way over to the Historic Church at Tabor College where several crafters and antique collectors joined forces with A Vintage Soiree to sell their wares.

“Soiree is a French word for party,” organizer Carisa Funk said. “Vintage means old, so it is our way of having fun with old things.”

Funk and her soiree partner Debbie Oelke said this was the fourth year they held a flea-market type bazaar at the old church building.

“The atmosphere here is just perfect for something like this,” Funk said. “The old wood and the lanterns on the walls are a unique setting for the antiques and other items we are selling.”

Funk said she enjoyed keeping an eye out for old furniture and decorative items all year, but at Christmas it was fun to get together with friends to sell things in order to finance future projects.

“I don’t necessarily refinish items, but if I see a special piece I might just clean it up and suggest some decorating ideas,” Funk said.

Decorating ideas were in abundance at the church building bazaar with old milk cans, painted window frames, antique tools, and farm objects showcased next too handcrafted jewelry, baked goods, aprons, and glass centerpieces.

Laura Paulus of Hillsboro made decorative centerpieces from recycled bottles, glasses, and candleholders, while Jillian Marsh showed her talent working with aircraft metal.

“My husband works to modify airplanes, so I have a lot of this interesting metal to work with,” Marsh said. “I can make necklaces, wriest bangles, and different types of earings. They are all really lightweight.”

Jewelry exhibitors Katie Bowell and Kendra Campbell also offered unique handcrafted accessories at their both with an airplane connection — the name of their business — Plane Jane Designs.

Hillsboro Senior Center hosted a soup and cinnamon roll luncheon for many visitors of the Down Home Christmas event, raising needed funds for continued activities at that location.

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