There’s no better way to catch the holiday spirit than to attend an old-fashioned Christmas Bazaar where you can immerse yourself in the music, tastes and smells of the season.
Start your shopping at Pleasant Valley fire company’s 36th annual Christmas in the Valley and visit the large train layout while you are there.
On Saturday, Nov. 10, rows of vendors will offer a variety of good for sale from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the fire company in Pleasant Valley. Shoppers will find hand crafted and homemade items like jewelry, needlepoint and hand-sewn items, floral arrangements, stained glass, homemade soap, baked goods and more.
Donna Geiman is a member of the fire company auxiliary. She was auxiliary president when they moved into the new firehouse in February 1982 and began planning their first Christmas in the Valley show.
“We never could have had a Christmas bazaar at the old fire house,” Geiman said. “There just was no room. We loved the idea of combining an event like this with a train garden.”
Geiman said auxiliary members spend a whole day baking — apple dumplings, apple pies, red velvet cakes and more for this event, and that makes the fire hall smell like the holidays.
“My favorite thing is the atmosphere, and the feeling of goodwill,” she said of the bazaar. “There’s Christmas music playing, and you get all the smells of those wonderful baked items. There is a sense of good wishes for people, too. We will have yeast breads, cakes, candies, fudge.
“It’s a great place to buy stuff for Thanksgiving. You can get it fresh baked and then freeze it. We make apple, cherry, and blueberry pies. We make raisin pies, too. A lot of people come for that because you can’t get raisin pies anymore.”
Pleasant Valley fire company auxiliary member Kim Thomas encourages parents to bring their children to meet Santa Claus from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., where families may bring their own phones or cameras to capture photos of their kids with Santa.
"This is a family tradition," Thomas said. "For those that have never been you can start a new family tradition."
Throughout the day, lunch will be available for purchase, including chicken corn soup, ham and bean and vegetable soups — all homemade. They will have barbecue, hot dogs, homemade chicken salad, macaroni and cheese, and individual servings of all the baked items they sell at the bake sale table — plus chips and drinks.
“We serve breakfast sandwiches until 9:30 a.m., too,” Geiman said.
One of the things attendees look for year after year are the homemade cheeseballs the auxiliary makes for this event. Once again, they will be available in 1-pound or half-pound sizes, ready to eat or to freeze for a future date.
"Oh, my heavens, everyone loves our cheeseballs," Thomas said. "We use over 100 pounds of cheese making them. Last year we ran out and we were literally making more cheeseballs on the day of the event."
While at the bazaar, stop by Pleasant Valley Fire Company's free train exhibit with Santa Fe trains, Western Maryland, Chessie System, and Maryland Midland. This giant train garden is free to visit! Kids will be drawn to push buttons and activate the many interactive features.
They’ll find a country fair with moving carnival rides, an excavation site, firetrucks that extinguish a stimulated fire, a campground dotted with flickering campfires and so much more. And there’s a Lego train display as well.
The train garden opens for Christmas in the Valley, and then will close until the weekend after Thanksgiving. A schedule of future train garden hours will be posted online at www.pleasantvalleyfire.org.
Geiman encourages people to stop by and enjoy an old-fashioned Christmas event. There’s no admission fee and it’s handicapped accessible.
“My children and my children’s children have all enjoyed this event for many years,” she said. “My mother, in her late 80s, will be baking pies. We have a lot of multi-generational people in Pleasant Valley and we see a lot of the same faces coming back, year after year.”
For more information on Christmas in the Valley, call Kim Thomas at 410-346-7563 or the Pleasant Valley Fire Company at 410-848-1977. Train garden inquiries can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The fire company is located at 2030 Pleasant Valley Road S. in Pleasant Valley.