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Ellinwood celebrates German heritage Saturday
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Hundreds of visitors gather for the tree blessing and lighting at the 2013 Christkindlemarket in Ellinwood. Saturday, the event returns, with new events including a free concert by Jake Gill and a formal Snow Ball at the Historic Wolf Hotel. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

On Saturday, Ellinwood will display its German ancestry with the return of Chirstkindlmarket.  
The festivities start at 10 a.m. with The Night Before Christmas Story Walk through downtown Ellinwood with stops in the local businesses and ending at the School Community Library.
“We were impressed with what other librarians from around the country had to say about the story walks they created for their communities,” said Sheri Holmes,  Director of Library Services.  She attended a library convention earlier this year where she picked up this and other ideas.  “This is the only one of its kind that we know of in Kansas.”
Lone Wolf Restaurant and Catering will serve a German lunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., carriage rides will be available, and local shops and vendors will be open to put a dent in that Christmas gift list.  
For a fee of $10, gingerbread workshops will be held at 1, 2:30 and 4 p.m. at the “Gather” open house.  Lynnie Lou Photography will also be taking photos with Santa from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.
At the Ellinwood Senior Center, the Ellinwood Community HIstorical Society is hosting Abendbrot, (German evening meal) at 4p.m.  William Keel of the German Department of Kansas University will present a talk about the people behind the German street names in Ellinwood: Humboldt, Wilhelm, Goeth,Schiller, Bismark, Arndt, Wieland and more.  Meal and presentation will be provided for $8 a plate.  
A Christmas tree blessing and lighting ceremony will kick of the evening events at 6:30 p.m. at the Wolf Park bandshell.  From there, take the short walk while caroling to the corner of Santa Fe and Main to light the Veterans Christmas tree.  
After the tree lighting, step into the tent outside the American Legion Post to visit a living nativity scene.  Children in the community tell the story of Jesus’ birth, attended by a manger-full of live animals, including donkeys, sheep and goats, and horses.  Stick around for a story reading of the Night Before Christmas, gift basket drawings, beverages, craft beer, and German food  provided by the American Legion.
All of this is only for starters.  Kansas born country singer Jake Gill will perform a free concert starting at 7 p.m. inside the big tent.
   As a musical performer, Gill qualifies as a “road warrior” with a full slate of dates on his schedule. He has also worked the stage with such musical heavyweights as Jake Owen, Easton Corbin, and Chris Cage. But, there’s one performer and stage that stands head and shoulder above them all.
   “I won a songwriting contest, and that got me on the main stage at Country Stampede, and I opened up for Jason Aldean” he recalls, claiming that night made him more confident than ever in his approach to entertaining a crowd. “By far, that was my greatest experience musically. It was surreal. I still remember being up there in front of 50,000 people and I wasn’t nervous,” he said.  Gill has performed at a number of Barton County events in recent years.  
The Historic Wolf Hotel has brought back an Ellinwood tradition by popular demand, says Kelli Penner.  The Snow Ball, a formal dance featuring both a DJ and live music from Mystic Blues gets going at 9 p.m.  The cost is $25 per person, and both formal and semi-formal attire is required.  There will be free hors d’oeuvres and a mini cash bar open.  Souvenir photos can also be purchased at the dance.  
Last year marked the beginning of the Christkindlemarket tradition.  The event drew visitors from around the state, as well as foreign tourists including a few from Germany who confided in Representative-elect J. Basil Dannebohm that the Abendbrot was truly authentic.  
“We are one of the few holiday festivals taking place in the state on this weekend,” he said.   Prior to the election, Dannebohm was the administrator for the Board of Directors for the Ellinwood Chamber of Commerce.