The Marion Christmas Plan

outdoor festival

Christmas. Christmas? Christmas!

Christmas everywhere all the time!

Basically, what I’m trying to tell you is that it’s practically Christmastime, which means one thing: we need a plan!

Marion County loves Christmas! But we love Christmas in a different way from the rest of West Virginia and from the rest of America. How so? We love it in a very Italian American way. (Emphasis on both ‘Italian’ and ‘American’ (and ‘both and ‘and’).)

We have ice skating like Americans and foods like Italians: the best of both worlds. And not only that, but we also have … a plan.

It all begins in Downtown Fairmont…wooden spoon stirring ingredients in a pan on the stove

On a beautiful December evening, walk down to Jackson Street and smell the scent of an Italian Christmas in the making. Festival Cucina is a chance to watch and learn the recipes local Italian American chefs learned from their Italian grandparents. But you’ll do more than learn, you’ll taste it for yourself! It’s a fun, funny and delicious experience-  but all that really goes without saying.

So make your plans for 5:30 p.m. Dec. 7.

The plan continues with…

Coal and Christmas go hand-in-hand, don’t they?

Don’t worry! We don’t want you to get a lump of coal for Christmas!

No matter how far removed we are from the coal-booming days, it will always be a massive part of our history. It’s something we can’t and don’t want to forget. So let’s all remember together at Arts & Antiques Marketplace for …

coal mine equipment

The Sixth Annual Coal Miners Appreciation Day & Swap MeetWhy in the world would this be in the (Italian American) Christmas Plan?

Well, allow me to explain. The mines were full of Italians making a new life in America. There were so many Italians that signs posted around work sites and for unions were written in both English and Italian. It’s not only part of Appalachian history but of Italian American history. This is also not coincidentally held on this weekend in honor of the Monongah Mine Disaster of 1907 that killed 362 miners.  

Now you know the why, it’s time for the what. Memorabilia. This swap meet is heavy with memories and vintage coal mining pieces. You can buy, sell or trade here. So don’t give someone coal for Christmas; get them old-timey coal mining equipment!

Now for the when? Dec. 8 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Much like you can’t stop the beat, you can’t stop the Christmas! This next event is not time-restricted. So feel free to head over to the Greenery Bazaar any day this weekend. Get your Christmas shopping, Christmas decorating and Christmas scenting done here! Buy and sniff fresh pine wreaths, basket arrangements, crafts, and other fragrant gifts.

The plan continues… in the street.

Keep eating Italian foods with the atmosphere of family and community… and space heaters.

fried donuts covered in sugar in a pan

The Feast of the Seven Fishes Festival is jam-packed with more than just fish. After attending Festival Cucina, you already know that fish is the traditional Italian Christmas Eve dinner.

Have some fish, some wine and some frittis!

Frittelle are basically Italian donuts eaten on Christmas Eve (and this day, but that’s it!). A fritti (as the locals call them) is a simple and sweet holiday tradition – but it’s more like a necessity.

Christmas is the time when you might need even more sweets than usual, and that’s OK. It’s part of the plan! From 12 p.m. – 3 p.m., Tea with a Twist is more than tea – as the name implies. Have hot tea, cookies and a tour of the seasonally decorated Fleming Mansion. It’s beautiful, historic, Christmasy and filled with cookies. Enjoy! (But how could you not?!)

Don’t let the day get away from you; there’s much more still to do! You won’t want for entertainment back at the Feast. Throughout the day, enjoy tunes from the Fairmont State University Academy for the Arts (11:15 a.m.), Sam Manno (1:45 p.m.) and the Morgantown Sax Quartet (2:30 p.m.), to name a few.

To end the feast is, of course, mass. What could be more Italian?!

In the middle of the festivities is actually more festivities! When the music stops is when the parade begins! The Fairmont Christmas Parade marches down the beautiful Million Dollar Bridge and ends at Palatine Park.

And at this park is something less Italian but just as magical: the ice skating rink. Here in Marion County, we won’t be dependent on the whims of the weather for our winter fun. This ice skating rink involves no ice whatsoever! So no matter the weather, we’ll be skating our hearts out (free of cost, too).

Last but never least is the most universal Christmasy event, whether you’re Italian, Italian American or none of the above. Take a stroll through Marion County’s Celebration of Lights! This is 1.3 miles of more than 400 holiday light displays. With a mix of driving and walking nights, you can take a drive through the lights while listening to quintessential holiday jingles.

That’s, unfortunately, the last of the Christmas Plan. If you want to make your travels home a little more Italian, you can always stop at Country Club Bakery to get some Italian American goodies to go.

What’s your favorite Christmas-time event? 

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