By Jasmine Willis
DANSVILLE — It all started as a way to bring the community closer together through historic and traditional ideas.
In the mid-1990s there was a strong need for community connection. Alice Burdick looked around her hometown and noticed friends and family were drifting apart. She started the ever-famous Winter in the Village as a way to bring back that feeling of friendship and human connection.
Susan DeMuth, Alice’s daughter, continues the traditional winter festival every single year. It still brightens the day of children and adults when they see the ice sculptures, Santa Claus, the trees all lit at Church Park, and arts and crafts throughout the village.
“My mom started this festival when my children were little. Kate was 8 years old, Ben was 6 years old, and Will was just 4 years old at the time. It was so much fun being a young mom and taking my kids into the stores to see old friends,” she said. “There were so many stores on Main Street back in those days. We had Wolfanger’s Shoe Store, Harold’s Army Navy Clothes Store, and the St. Mary’s School had music in the basement. We had Christmas Caroling up and down the streets all night. We had the Carol Bell Ringers at the GCC building in the loft. The acoustics up there were so nice. We are trying to bring some of those old traditions back.”
Marleen Mark held vendors of all kinds in her store building on Main Street next to the Grand Hotel.
“It is hard to pay for leases on stores anymore. I have had a variety of stores in my building since I owned it for about 9 years now. Small businesses are having a really hard time now. I would like to bring in a variety of local small businesses to my store,” she said. “We had one like that years ago when I moved here called the Dogwood Tree. They had everything from hardware, baked goods, clothes, cards, and crafts. There was something for everyone in that store. I love the idea of highlighting a variety of small businesses that normally can’t afford a store of their own.”
Mark said there needs to be more community support for these local businesses.
“I am going to have my store open to anyone who wants a space in it. I have several interested so far like a lady who makes jewelry and a painter in Springwater,” she said. “I have always loved doing my storefront window up for Christmas. I did this one up with my sister for Winter in the Village. Dansville is a very special and giving community to be part of. I never wanted to live anywhere else.”
If you are interested in a small business space in the store give Mark a call at 585-738-6070.
Santa Claus had his own special hangout at the Dansville ArtWorks this year with lots of local artwork.
The Santa Claus Fireman Parade has Dansville Fire Department, K’s Canine Training Services, Dansville Central Marching Band and Dansville Ambulance.
The Fantasy of Lights had trees from Dansville Strong Inc. and Class of 2020 this time around. The Dansville Central students all sang their little hearts out for Santa Claus at the Church Park Gazebo.
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church made a lovely Nativity scene with real a real camel, goat, and alpaca this year.
The ice sculptures this time were a moose, snowman, north pole sign, and Santa Claus.