Letter: Lessons from another Christkindlmarkt



As the official non-mayor of Carmel, I find great intellectual stimulation in studying Carmel Christkindlmarkt. City propaganda tells me it “is bringing the Old-World charm of Christmas in Germany to beautiful Carmel, Indiana. The Christmas market tradition stretches back to Saxony, Germany, during the Middles Ages. Over the centuries, the joys of the traditional Christmas markets spread from town to town and around the world!”

Dandy. Of course. Carmel imitates 27 other cities nationwide in staging what is literally translated as “Christ child market.” Funny, I thought I had read somewhere that Christ was a carpenter, not a shopkeeper, but I digress.

When I learned our own Christ child market had hired the CEO’s husband for $40,000 as a contractor, I knew something big was afoot, or a-boondoggling, as the case may be. Unfortunately, the market is closed now, so firsthand accounts are hard to come by.

So, I contacted those with more experience in these matters. They, or she, to be more precise, turned up 150 miles south in Ferdinand, Indiana. It’s a neat place, if you’ve never been there. Germanic. Small (population 2,150 or so). Named for an Austrian emperor.

I inquired. One of the coordinators of the Ferdinand Christkindlmarkt said they just celebrated their 20th year. Coordinator Diane Hoppenjans noted, “We draw around 8,000 to 10,000 guests who come to shop the 200-plus vendor booths of handcrafted items, antiques, food and wine.  There is no admission charge.  It is held annually the third full weekend of November.”

I also learned Diane hires five people part time “to assist with cleaning.” I was too polite to ask if she had let any $40,000 contracts to get her husband a taste of the action.

Bill Shaffer, Carmel