ELDERSVILLE - When visitors arrive for the 25th-annual Christmas in the Village craft festival Friday, they may notice small changes at the White Church on Fire Road and Heritage Hall on Eldersville Road - both buildings have been awarded Historical Registered Landmark designations from the Washington County History and Landmarks Historic Landmark Register.
Peggy Strain, Jefferson Township Historical Society secretary, said the group received the plaques in time to mount them before the annual festival, which the society participates in, along with the Jefferson Township Volunteer Fire Department, Eldersville United Methodist Church and Cornerstone Mennonite Church.
The White Church located at 11 Fire Road was built in 1844 as an abolitionist church, the oldest such structure still standing in the area, and eventually became a home to several local families.
SPECIAL?HONOR — Sandy Mansmann, Washington County History and Landmarks Foundation coordinator, left, presented a Registered Landmark plaque to Peggy Strain, of the Jefferson Township Historical Society. The society received two plaques, one for the White Church and another for Heritage Hall, which will be on view during the 25th-annual Christmas in the Village craft festival Friday through Sunday.
"We had a (historical society) member who lived there with her family at one point," said Strain.
The historical society purchased the building in 1992 and began restoration efforts. By 1995, the building was in use, and the society continues to use it for its monthly meetings, annual fundraising plant and garage sales and during the Christmas in the Village festival, where several area crafters will be set up.
"We've done a lot to preserve the White Church," said Strain.
Heritage Hall located at 493 Eldersville Road was built in 1876 as an Odd Fellows Lodge and was known as "Centennial Hall." It was sold to the historical society in 1990 for $1, and the society spent the next two years refurbishing it to be used as a community meeting hall. The society has opened a museum featuring local history on the second floor, and that museum will be open throughout the Christmas in the Village festival.
The craft festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday throughout the village on Fire Road, Cedar Grove Road, Eldersville Road and Church Road.
In celebration of the event's silver anniversary, this year's theme is "Red and Silver Nutcrackers."
"Christmas in the Village began 25 years ago by five women opening up their homes full of crafts to sell," said Strain. "Today we are pleased to have two homes with open doors, one on Short Street and one on Cedar Grove Road. When we first started the festival, it was two days, but it's grown to the point where we felt we needed to be open three days."
Strain said the festival had grown too large for private homes, and more than 75 crafters are expected to participate, many of which will be set up at the White Church, Methodist church, Mennonite church, fire hall and Heritage Hall.
"We don't accept commercial vendors," said Strain. "They have to have made 80 percent of whatever they're selling. We advertise it as a craft festival and we don't want to get away from that. That's what makes us unique. So many other festival allow commercial vendors."
The festival will begin with a light-up night at 7 p.m. today at the Eldersville United Methodist Church with a community service.
"From the very beginning, we've always had light up the Thursday before," said Strain.
There will be a special breakfast with Santa at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at the Jefferson Township Volunteer Fire Department hall on Fire Road. To make a reservation, call Paulette Mermon at (724) 587-3832.
Also for children, the Burgettstown Community Library will host a free children's area Saturday and Sunday near the fire hall. Rainbow the Clown will be on hand, and children will be able to make a craft. Children must be accompanied by an adult. The "Village Express" train, built by Dave Choman, also will be available to children.
Choman has built several items for the festival, including the "Welcome House," located along Cedar Grove Road, near the White Church, where directories and Christmas in the Village items will be available. Choman also made the nutcracker-inspired directional signs throughout the village.
The annual Christmas in the Village parade will be held at noon Saturday along Eldersville Road. It includes local bands, community organizations, floats and Santa Claus.
"The Burgettstown (High School) marching band will be there and has been at almost every single one since the beginning," said Strain.
The Methodist church will hold its annual chili cook-off at 1 p.m. Saturday on the front lawn of the church, located on Church Street.There will be three categories, hot, mild and specialty, and those entering the contest can register until noon for a $10 donation.
Those attending the festival may taste-test and judge until 3:30 p.m. for a $1 donation per vote. The winner will be announced at 4 p.m. There will be one winner per category and an overall winner. For information, call the church at (724) 947-2589.
A Chinese auction will take place at the Christmas in the Village pavilion behind the fire hall.
Red and white welcome signs have been made for every door on a building where the public will enter, said Strain.
Food will be available at the fire hall, the Methodist church, Heritage Hall and the Cornerstone Mennonite Church.
A committee of more than 20 people begin monthly planning meetings in February to prepare for the November festival, and scores of volunteers from the participating agencies participate each year, said Strain.
Admission and parking are free.
(Wallace-Minger can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)