New England kicks off the holiday season with annual shop and celebration event

The Christmas spirit was on full display on Sunday, Dec. 7 in New England. Hosting its annual Christmas Shop and Celebration festivities at the Memorial Hall, the town gathered and enjoyed food, games, shopping and conversation.

Santa in New England 2 (RGB)
Kids attending The Annual Christmas Shop & Celebration event in New England got a chance to tell Santa their Christmas wish. The event drew many community members and featured activities for all ages of the family.

By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor | cbenz@countrymedia.net

The Christmas spirit was on full display on Sunday, Dec. 7 in New England. Hosting its annual Christmas Shop and Celebration festivities at the Memorial Hall, the town gathered and enjoyed food, games, shopping and conversation.

First year organizer Lori Monke was satisfied with how the event turned out.

“I think it went rather well,” Monke said.

The format of the event was adjusted a little this year from years past. This season’s event featured the vendor’s booths on the upper level of the building, with the kids’ games adjacent to the shopping. The new format worked for parents wanting to look around and keep an eye on their children, something Monke said worked out well for everyone.

“It worked out well that way, the kids could play and the parents could shop if they chose,” Monke said.

Kids games included ring toss, dart throwing, dart gun shooting, chicken tossing, bean bag tossing and fishing for prizes. Little tokens of victory were given out in the forms of candy and other little items.

Nestled in the corner next to the games was a station that both kids and adults enjoyed participating in, cookie decorating. The table was filled with different holiday shaped cookies and a plethora of frostings and sprinkles for everyone to make their own delicious designs.

The vendor fair portion of the event was also a big hit. Featuring 16 different stands, Monke said they had one come from as far as Bismarck.

The event kicked off with a free will donation meal put on by the music students of New England Public School. The students are raising money to fund a trip they will be taking in 2016. The group will be traveling to San Francisco for sight seeing as well as staging at least three performances. The group served pulled pork sandwiches and salads.

Also hosted in the basement was the annual Bingo game. Put on by Butch Frank and the Lions Club.

In the lower level was the area designated for kids shopping. This spot was for the children to browse a select number of items to purchase for family members as Christmas presents.

What would the event be without a little Kris Kringle?

Santa and Mrs. Claus made their way to the upper level of the Memorial Hall and to their seats just inside the ramp side of the gymnasium.

Kids gathered, and each one lined up to tell Santa their Christmas wish.

The two of the final three events were cancelled due to inclement weather. Cloudy skies and high winds with sleet forced the hay rides and Christmas caroling event to be cancelled.

Reflecting on the event, Monke thought the newer formats worked well for the event, because it allowed the community to be in one place, something she thought was conducive in getting the community to stick around the event a little longer.

“I think people seemed to like it better,” Monke said. “I think it benefited the band and it benefited us too as vendors, that we kept people around in town.”

Monke also said she appreciated everyone that came out and enjoyed the event.

“I wanted to thank the New England community for coming out and supporting the event,” Monke said. “It was awesome.”

Monke also wanted to thank the many volunteers who gave their time and energy to the holiday event.

Monke said herself and Jodi Olsenoawski have committed to organizing the event again next year.

All of the proceeds from this year’s event will be put into an account to go towards the funding of next year’s event.

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