Mistletoe Mart marks 45-year anniversary at Westminster's Church of the Ascension

The Church of Ascension, in Westminster, has a concept for those seeking unique Christmas or holiday gifts in a spirit of giving. The church’s Mistletoe Mart, open through Saturday, offers artisan-crafted gifts, supporting the creators and local nonprofits.

And, judging by longevity alone, to say it’s a success would be an understatement


“This is our 45th annual Mistletoe [Mart] featuring 51 vendors of high-end art and crafts,” said the Rev. Samuel Nsengiyumva, rector of the Episcopal church. “We hope to welcome over 3,000 visitors.”

The three-day event was off to a good start Thursday afternoon, with people bustling about the array of crafts on display at the 23 N. Court St. location, some having traveled into town specifically for Mistletoe Mart.

“It’s been very nice. We had lunch and been shopping around and bought a number of things,” said Brenda Wilson, of Timonium, who had driven up with a friend.

Kathy Lord was a first-time shopper at Mistletoe Mart and had traveled down from York, Pennsylvania, with a friend just for the occasion.

“We had no idea what a wonderful experience it was going to be, that there would be this many people here and this many vendors,” Lord said. “We were just sitting upstairs having a lovely cup of tea and saying this has got to be our favorite Christmas mart we’ve been to. Definitely coming back — it’s going to be a yearly experience!”

It was the third year at Mistletoe Mart for vendor John Landis, of Sykesville, a metalworker, whose booth was arrayed with metal centerpieces crafted from spoons and other metal items.

“Turn me loose with a torch and a hammer and I’ll do anything,” he said. “I have been doing the smithing for over 40 years. I started out doing traditional stuff and now that I’ve gotten older and retired, I’ve started making things that are a little lighter to work with.”

Thursday was a busy day at the Mistletoe Mart, Landis said, but he still had time to walk around and visit with other vendors as the day got going.

“Some of the people I’ve gotten to know over the last two years have been coming here for years,” he said. “I’m kind of a newbie here.”

It was the vendors that the founders of the event had in mind, according to Marcie Forster, president of the event.

“The Mistletoe Mart was started to give those artisans who have God-given talents to produce goods, so they can earn a living,” she said. “We have jewelers, we have those who make wood works, we have iron forge makers, we have brooms, we have the marble man.”

And the church donates 30 percent of the event’s proceeds to community nonprofits, Forster said.

“Proceeds we provide to New Life for Girls, Men of Standard. We provide to the Y Hill Center in support of the Turkey Trot. We are a sponsor this year of [The] Shepherd Staff for the Festival of Trees, so we will have a tree that can be purchased,” she said.“Everything goes locally here into Carroll County.”

And Mistletoe Mart is definitely where Forster does her Christmas shopping.


“I got some things for my son to send to Florida,” she said. “I have some things picked out for my family when we see them at Christmas.”