CHESTERTON | For those hankering for butter crunch flavored coffee, almond coconut cake truffles or homemade sea salt caramel sauce, the European Market’s Mistletoe Market was the place to be Saturday.
Two gymnasiums at Westchester Intermediate School were full of gourmet foods, as well as eclectic clothing, jewelry and home decor for shoppers, along with Santa Claus visiting with children.
Ivy’s Catering displayed homemade barbecue sauces, salsa, salad dressings and bloody Mary mixes, while other vendors offered gifts, such as alpaca shawls, hats, and scarves, wooden children’s toys, and pet snacks, collars, toys, and leashes.
“We do well here. … we like it,” said Amy Mackiewicz, of Ivy’s. “It’s fun for us and we get to experiment with different products.”
New this year was a “mini food court” outside the school to nourish busy shoppers, said Allyson Baughman, marketing director for the Duneland Chamber of Commerce, which hosts the event.
“These food vendors are hearty souls that set up outside,” Baughman said. “It’s been a big hit.”
Three friends who recently “reconnected” after a 50th class reunion this summer reunited at the market.
Even though she had just started shopping, Wallene Swentko, of Hammond, already had purchased peanut butter cookies, fudge, a rosemary flat bread and a pair of Santa Claus earrings.
“These started out as Christmas gifts, but now they’re for me,” said Swentko, who shopped with Kathy Benko, of Highland, and Charlene Kraulis, of Chesterton.
Baughman said the 92 vendors are those who have appeared at the summertime European Market, and that at least 3,000 shoppers would pass through the merchandise stalls before the day’s end.
“These vendors are very loyal to us,” said Baughman. “They’ve stuck with us, and this is kind of a reward for them for being good sports.”
Cathy Swisher, of Porter, returned to the market for her second year, and brought along friend Sandy Nadolski, of Crown Point.
“This is really cool. ...I’ve seen a lot of nice things. Now I’m hoping to get some snacky foods – you know, good nutritional things,” Nadolski said.