5th Annual Haven Holiday Market by James Coulter

5th Annual Haven Holiday Market
By James Coulter

The 5th Annual Haven Holiday Market this November: Kick off the holiday shopping season and support local. There’s something for everyone.

There’s no place like home for the holidays, and there’s nothing that makes the holidays feel like home than homemade holiday ornaments and decorations. If you’re looking to add some homemade feel to your holiday festivities, then consider visiting the Holiday Haven Market on Saturday, November 16 in downtown Winter Haven, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

For the past five years, this annual free outdoor community event has been hosted on the third Saturday of every November. The event allows residents and visitors alike to visit scenic downtown Winter Haven for a chance to peruse homemade holiday decorations as crafted by artisans from across the state and country.

This year’s event expects to draw in more than 160 vendors from across six different states to showcase their homemade holiday arts and crafts, which in turn is expected to draw in 15,000 attendees.

In addition, there will be vendors selling cottage food items such as jams and jellies, breads, cupcakes, etc. Live music will be playing as well as familiar traditional holiday tunes. Food trucks will also be selling their delicious concoctions. 

Whether you are looking for wreaths, ornaments, or any other special holiday decoration, you’re sure to find something truly unique that cannot be found anywhere else, especially nothing mass-produced for a large commercial corporate chain.

“You won’t find the same product twice, because almost nothing is duplicated,” said event coordinator, Sergio Cruz. “They [artists and vendors] may create something today, but who knows what they will create tomorrow. They [guests] will have a wonderful one-of-a-kind experience.”

Typical items found at Haven Holiday Market include unique art, jewelry, homemade soaps, paintings, drawings, woodturned crafts, knitted and crocheted items, gift cards, baby items, floral arrangements, and a whole host of other quality gifts. Items for furry friends will be on hand as well, and as such, the event is pet-friendly.

Cruz started the holiday-themed arts and crafts show five years ago, modeling the event after their spring show, The 863 Local Art Fest. Many of the participating artists and craftsmen for the spring event had suggested a similar event in the winter to coincide with the holidays. In response to this growing demand for a holiday show, the Haven Holiday Market was created.

Since its first year, the annual event has grown in both vendors and attendees. The first year it had 71 vendors. The second year saw 99; the third, 129; and the fourth, 162. Likewise, foot traffic has also grown each year, Cruz says.

Not only has the event drawn in large crowds each and every year, but it has also drawn them in earlier. The show starts promptly at 9 a.m., but even by then, the crowds arrive early on to ensure they are first for the awesome deals, Cruz explains.

“At [9 a.m.], there [are] already 1,000 people plus. What that is basically saying is that these people have attended before, they have come, and [they have] seen there are great products, and if they do not get it, they come after 10 [a.m.], they are going to miss a good chance to find good products,” he says.

Each year has vendors arrive from across the country to attend, with this year’s event drawing in vendors from six different states. Aside from allowing these vendors an opportunity to showcase, sell, and trade their art in Central Florida, the holiday market also helps spur the local economy, both directly through the sales made at the event, as well indirectly with business for local restaurants and hotels, Cruz says.

The overall success for the annual event has been attributed through the sense of community fostered by the attending vendors. Many have formed close camaraderie with one another, and they have also helped spread new of the event and their participation within it through social media.

“We encourage every single vendor to help with the network on social media [and] phone calls. So we work the entire industry. We are a whole team,” he says.

Aside from social media, the holiday market is predominantly promoted through The 863 Magazine, as well as through new coverage by local stations such as Fox 13 and ABC Action News, the latter of which even helps promote the event’s website.

With how much the event has grown in recent years, and with the mass marketing through social and mainstream media, this year’s is looking to be bigger and better than ever. In fact, even four months before, vendor spaces have already been sold out by 50 percent, Cruz says.

For more info visit HavenHolidayMarket.com.

Editor’s note: All photos on this page are from previous Haven Holiday Markets and represent the types of vendors / food that can be found at the event. Photos property of The 863 Magazine / Central Florida Event Vendors.