It looked a lot like Christmas inside the 10th annual Holiday Market on Sunday at Aksarben Village. But the weather outside was more like spring.
“The weather is helping out a lot compared to last year when it was so cold,” said Russ Rand, general manager of Benson Brewery. “We’ve probably seen double the amount of people this weekend than last year.”
Temperatures approached 50 degrees in the Omaha area on Sunday and winds were calm, while a year ago, marketgoers had to contend with a blustery December day.
Still, shopper David Marshall was feeling the cold. He recently moved back to the area from Arizona.
“This is awesome,” Marshall said, looking around. “It gives everybody a warm place to walk around, and that’s great for me because I’m not used to the cold at all.”
The two-day market held inside a 15,000-square foot tent included artwork, home decor, furnishings, jewelry, handcrafted bath and body items and lots of goodies to eat. Savory and sweet items included jellies, jams, honey, salsas, specialty beverages, baked goods, gourmet popcorn and roasted almonds.
A second tent held a Santa’s Workshop and gave kids a chance to tell the jolly old elf exactly what they wanted for Christmas. Inside, staff members from the Omaha Children’s Museum supervised activities including building Christmas trees, decorating stockings and creating a special hot cocoa mix.
At the Benson Brewery stand, sales were brisk, with folks ordering pub grub such as pulled pork sandwiches. Of course, beers were available for those who like to sip and shop.
Rand said the brewery’s Thunder Bunny, an imperial stout with 10% alcohol, had been selling well. This year, the brewery also sold bloody marys and mimosas.
“It’s nice to have a little bit to drink while you’re shopping,” Rand said. “People are having a good time.”
People were snapping up a variety of items to eat from Dundee’s Le Quartier Bakery & Cafe. Seth Quiring, one of the owners, said the chocolate cranberry brioche was proving popular.
“It’s a recipe my brother learned in Montreal,” he said. “It’s a bread that we sell all through the month of December.”
Popcorn is good any time, said Jodi Schendt, owner of Popperista Gourmet Popcorn, but especially during the holidays, when it makes a great gift. Schendt operates the Popperista store in Papillion and near 180th and Pacific Streets.
One of the fastest-selling items, she said, was her Poppy Chow, popcorn covered in chocolate and peanut butter. Her Christmas Crunch with candy canes and white chocolate was also flying off the shelf.
“I almost sold out of everything (Saturday),” Schendt said. “I’ve been very busy, but of course, the weather helps.”
Many Christmas decorations from the Gourd Art Studio were also selling out, said Linda Bernett. She and her sister, Lana Bojanski, have been vendors at all but the very first Holiday Market.
Their decorations are made of or include gourds. They are hand-painted and include tree decorations as well as stand-alone items such as penguins, Nativity scenes, polar bears and snowmen.
Barb Dotzler of Omaha admired the detail on a Santa Claus ornament made from a tiny gourd. The Holiday Market is an annual stop for her.
“I get a lot of my Christmas shopping done here,” Dotzler said. “I like shopping local so that I am supporting businesses from Nebraska and Iowa.”