Christkindlmarkt canceled for 2020


FERDINAND — There will be no Olde World Christmas market in Ferdinand this year. The 2020 Christkindlmarkt is canceled.

The Christkindlmarkt committee had a meeting Wednesday to discuss if the annual Christmas tradition — which draws about 10,000 people to Ferdinand — could take place this year amid the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ultimately, the committee decided it could not. In a unanimous vote, the festival was canceled.

“We just could not do it safely,” said Christkindlmarkt Committee Co-president Tracy Weyer. “That is our No. 1 priority, just keeping everyone safe.”

Weyer said the biggest concern was space. The market locations at Forest Park Junior-Senior High School, the Ferdinand Community Center and Monastery Immaculate Conception are always packed with shoppers, vendors and performers. Without making major changes to how the festival is run, Weyer said, there would have been no way to accommodate the crowds while maintaining social-distancing guidelines. The shuttles that run between the locations would likely not have been possible due to cleaning guidelines.

“Going much smaller would really have changed the essence of the event,” Weyer said.

The committee decided to announce the cancellation now so that the vendors could be given notice of the decision before they spent too much time preparing for the event. Weyer said the committee knows many vendors begin preparing now for the Christkindlmarkt, and for some, it is their largest money maker of the year. The committee wanted to make sure the vendors would have enough time to make other plans.

Weyer knows the vendors won’t be the only businesses hit by the committee’s decision to cancel this year’s event. Ferdinand’s businesses, restaurants and hotels also depend on the event for revenue.

“It was not an easy decision, but we do feel it was the best one,” she said.

Although news of the cancellation is still new, Weyer said she’s heard back from some vendors who say that while they’re disappointed the event won’t happen, they understand.

“COVID-19 has really wreaked havoc on social events,” Weyer said. “Right now, this year, there’s just really nothing to look forward to.”

The Christkindlmarkt joins a long list of staple events that have either been canceled or seriously reorganized. The Ferdinand Folk Festival — which also draws thousands of people to the town — was canceled in May, and the Jasper Strassenfest Committee also announced the cancellation of its 2020 event.

Christkindlmarkt may be canceled this year, but it is not gone for good. The committee plans to host the event again in 2021 with plans to make it the biggest market of the event’s 23-year history.

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