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Winter in the Village:25 Years of Old-Fashioned Christmas

Remember gathering around the TV, enjoying some records, and the old dolls, and decorating the Christmas Tree. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

By Jasmine Willis

DANSVILLE – We are all in need of the old-fashioned Christmas time spirit this year.

The Winter in the Village provides the childhood Christmas vibes every single year. That was the goal of Alice Burdick, founder, Winter in the Village in 1996. She wanted to bring back the feeling of an old-fashioned winter festival to historic downtown.

Sue DeMuth, Alice’s daughter, recalls the first year of Winter in the Village. Winter in the Village started out as a way to bring old friends and family back to Main Street. There were old shops that lined the storefronts and had lots of Christmas specials on display. The vendors were up and down Main Street with lots of different crafts and gifts. Christmas Carolers sang at the St. Mary’s School and would gather afterwards downtown. It truly was a magical event for the entire community. It was beyond anyone’s dreams more than two decades ago.

DeMuth said it brings joy to her mother to see the festival still going strong after all these years. Randy DeMuth, Sue’s husband, started the idea of the Ice Sculptures a couple years later. That has been a huge part of this winter event. Lori Welch has taken over the ice sculpture part of the festival. Welch added that this is the biggest year yet. There were 12 ice sculptures. They were all sponsored by businesses or individuals.

Plenty of unique ice sculptures on Main Street this year. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

Winter in the Village was held on Dec. 4 as a big celebration of 25 years of Christmas Spirit.

Welch sent out a thank you to everyone who took part in the ice sculptures this year.

“Thank you so much for your generous participation. We couldn’t do it without you. You are one of the many reasons Dansville is a wonderful place to live, work and play. Wishing everyone a healthy, prosperous, and joyful holiday season,” she wrote.

The ice sculpture sponsors this year; Dansville Chamber and Commerce, Mill Creek Optical, Pizza King, Community Bank, The Genesee Valley Agency, Rushbottom Heights Salon, Michal Adam Insurance Agency, Dogwood Floral Company, Joyce E. Davies Association, Dansville Auto Mart, Rogers and Tenbrook, Tony’s Pizzeria, Thomas Wamp Real Estate, Howard Hanna Real Estate, Kyles Metal Shop, Scovill’s Grill, Expressway Auto Auction, Muchler Financial Services, R’Meraki Hair Salon, Strike Back Martial Arts, A Smile By Design, Dansville Boy Scout Troop 38, Barry Haywood, Angie’s Ice Cream, M&K Properties, Empire Realty, Village Clippers Barber and Styling, Dansville Rotary Club, and Dansville Gliders Baseball.

We even supported our local baseball heroes this year. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

Jerry Jackson spearheaded the second annual Vintage Snowmobile show this year. Jackson is planning on a big show coming to Babcock Park in June. There is a huge interest in collecting, refurbishing, and riding vintage snowmobiles all over the country.

Jackson had some guys from his high school days stop by with their vintage snowmobiles. He said there were some new participants this year.

“We hope to have a full show for the first time in Dansville at Babcock Park in June. We have been doing it at the Cohocton Fall Festival for years now. I want to do a show here in Dansville. We will have participants judge the show. There will be different categories,” he said. “We are excited to have the T’NT Ski Doo snowmobiles here this year. They are from a buddy of mine who I graduated with.”

The Ski Doo brand was the first to allow public snowmobiles in the 1950s. These are exciting for vintage snowmobile collectors to own and refurbish. There were also John Deeres and Artic Cats too.

“When you get into collecting these vintage snowmobiles it becomes an addiction. I have five of them myself I been working on. Most of the guys who get into this will buy and sell them after they fix them up,” Jackson said. “We are like a traveling band of gypsies. We meet others like us at various different shows. We get just as excited about these as guys do about classic cars and tractors. You create a family of guys that are interested in the same kind of stuff. Some of these guys even did snowmobile drag racing in the day.”

Spread holiday cheer at our unique and vintage shop. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

Nicole Alioto, Dansville ArtWorks president has created a place to capture your childhood memories with The Vault. The Vault has been featured in a Texas newspaper for vintage Christmas decorations. It was even in the Southern Living magazine. The Vault has been getting national attention as it continues to flourish in the community.

Alioto said there has been a lot of momentum surrounding this unique antique store on 153 Main Street. There is a waiting list to get a booth in this popular downtown vintage shop.

“Everyone has their own style here. They have collected it themselves over the years or inherited from a family member. Some vendors are part of the shop, because they want to downsize their own antique collection. We have a lot of people who like to collect and sell treasure here,” she said.

The Fantasy of Lights was big this year as well. There were a lot of memorial trees to loved ones. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

Alioto said the stories she hears from people who come in and talk about their childhood is what makes it all worth it. There are people who come from all over to collect and see things they haven’t seen since they were a child.

“We had a young boy about 10 years old who came in and wanted a very trendy painting. It was very vintage and retro. He wanted to buy the painting since it spoke to him,” she said. “We had a little girl who just loved our vintage Barbie collections. We have had multi-generational customers who come in and share their stories.”

The Vault is planning on expanding next year with a Feb. 2, 2022 grand opening. They will be renting items to weddings, bridal showers, and baby showers who just want some vintage items for one day. There will be a rental agreement to sign and the person will be responsible for those items that need to be returned to the store.

An example of a memorial tree with the marker actually in the ground next to it. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

The Dansville Venture Crew 1776 held their biggest fundraiser at the Winter in the Village. They take boys and girls ages 14 to 21 years old on adventures. The idea is to create the kind of group they age out of in boy scouts and girl scouts. This provides them with out door and in door activities and a group of friends. The group is currently looking for new members and would love to have you. If you are interested you can go to their group page.

DeMuth said her favorite part of the festival has always been when friends and family gather to experience downtown and the old-fashioned Christmas spirit. It is what the festival has been about for two decades.

Fantasy of Lights had a lot of memorial trees this year. Many of them had photos, poems, or special ornaments to honor the loved ones who passed. It was a way to let them be part of the festival and embrace the Christmas Spirit.


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