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Christkindlmarket celebrates Ellinwoods German heritage
new kl christkindlmarket
Lloyd Kurtz, Ellinwood chamber of commerce board president and J. Basil Dannebohm, chamber administrator, choose a Christmas tree for the first ever Christkindlmarket to be held Dec. 1. It will be placed at the Wolf Park Band Shell in downtown Ellinwood. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

Ellinwood will transform into an authentic German holiday village brimming with traditional Christmas activities at the first-ever Christkindlmarket on Dec. 1. The roots of its German heritage run deep in the community that was settled by Germans in the late 1800s.
“We didn’t have an event on a larger scale that was thoroughly German,” said J. Basil Dannebohm, Ellinwood chamber of commerce administrator. “In Germany, Christkindlmarket is quite traditional in the town square in front of the Church. Several larger communities (in the U.S.) do these.”
Thoroughly German the celebration will be with traditional food and Christmas tree lightings, a living nativity, caroling, vendors, book reading and more. There is no admission charge.
“It’s a great opportunity to take part in what we hope will become a holiday tradition, not just for Ellinwood but for the entire region,” said Dannebohm.
Jam packed with traditional activities, the market starts at 2 p.m. with 40 vendors at the Lone Wolf Restaurant, 111 E. 1st., Historic Wolf Hotel, 1 N. Main, and the Brick Street Garage, 118 N. Main. Merchants will be open as well.
An abendbrot, or evening meal, will be served at the Heritage Center, 103 N. Main,  from 3-5 p.m. by the Ellinwood Historical Society. “It’s a traditional German evening meal,” said Mary Jo Cunningham, Ellinwood Historical Society. It includes hard rolls and artisan breads, a variety of meats, cheese, pickles and salad. A $5 donation is suggested.
“It’s an evening meal on the lighter side as the Germans would do it,” said Dannebohm.
The Heritage Center will be decorated with a traditional feather tree, pre-World War II Christmas ornaments, and historic smoker men, which are incense burners.
A German buffet at the Lone Wolf Restaurant is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and St. John Lutheran Church, 5th and Wilhelm, will have guest organists, and the choir perform some of the season’s best at 3 p.m.
At sundown, a 15 foot tall white pine tree will be lit at Wolf Park in downtown Ellinwood at the historic band shell where local choirs will lead the community in caroling at 5 p.m.
“The idea of gathering at the band shell and lighting a magnificent tree just gives me chills,” said Lloyd Kurtz, chamber board. “I’m so pleased our Chamber is starting a new tradition that will surely put everybody in the Christmas spirit.”
Following that lighting, the gathering will make its way down Main Street to the American Legion Park where a second tree will be illuminated.
Real animals have parts in the living nativity play that starts at 6 p.m., including donkeys, cattle and lambs. The actors will be Ellinwood children and a traditional German Santa, Sankt Nicklaus will  make an appearance.
In addition, George Martin will read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” at 6:30 p.m. at the Historic Wolf Hotel.
Finally, Dodge City Marshal Allen Bailey will perform during the inaugural event. Bailey, along with his wife Cowgirl Janey will perform a variety of Cowboy and Christmas songs in a lively performance entitled, “A Cowboy Christmas.” More German fare will be served such as beer, wassail, and other holiday treats with the evening ending at 9 p.m.
“We’re pleased to be hosting what we hope will be a Christmas tradition in Ellinwood,” said Dannebohm. “Barton County has successfully built a reputation of being the Holiday Capital of Kansas. The Christkindlmarket will be one more ‘must experience’ event during the holiday season.”
For more information about the Christkindlmarket, call the Ellinwood Chamber of Commerce at 620.566.7353 or email