Weekend festivals in the Chattanooga area put the emphasis on Christmas shopping

Staff file photo / Trophies in the Chattanooga Market's Lodge cook-off events are typically fashioned from Lodge Manufacturing's signature cast-iron products. Although Chattanooga Market had to cancel such crowd-drawing events at First Horizon Pavilion this year because of the coronavirus, the move to the larger Chattanooga Convention Center for the Holiday Market comes with a Cast Iron Bake-off on Saturday.

The festival season may be winding down, but look for an added emphasis on "festive" in these final weeks before Christmas.

Noteworthy this weekend are the Mistletoe Market in Collegedale, the Christmas Market in Hixson and the Holiday Market, the indoor conclusion of Chattanooga Market, continuing two more weekends downtown.

The Mistletoe Market, previously known as Christmas on Cambridge Square, is moving from its original Ooltewah location to the Collegedale Commons. Promoter Shannon Wright, founder of Touch the Sky Events & Promotions, said she's expecting more than 150 vendors for her final event of the year, scheduled Saturday and Sunday.

The number represents "a great variety" of merchandise, she said, as well as almost 20 food vendors. Kids will be especially interested in free photos with Santa on Saturday, make-your-own s'mores, pony rides and a petting zoo.

In Hixson, a plethora of pop-up shops will have an eight-day run at the Northgate Mall Christmas Market starting Friday. Promoter Kim Krause, owner of K&S Southern Hospitality Events, said they'll be set up in a storefront between Belk and Chick-fil-A.

"We'll have the windows decorated and signs outside so people can find us," she said. "Right now we're at 48 vendors, and I'll probably still get a few laggers toward the end of the week."

Chattanooga Holiday Market is midway into its end-of-season wind-down at the Chattanooga Convention Center. The seasonal sale, which takes place indoors over three weekends, caps off the popular open-air market held Sundays from spring through fall at First Horizon Pavilion on Chattanooga's Southside. It's the largest of several open-air markets operated by Chattanooga Public Markets.

This year, because of COVID-19 concerns, the weekly markets dropped live entertainment and themed events that typically draw large crowds and focused on food and other essentials. The Holiday Market, in a much larger space, expands the vendor list to nearly 200.

Melissa Lail, assistant executive director of Chattanooga Public Markets, said opening weekend showed that "people are ready to support local [merchants]. They're coming to shop. They shop and they leave, and over and over we've heard how safe they feel."

The merchandise includes handicrafts such as clothing, holiday decor, jewelry and a wide assortment of bath and body care, along with fine art ranging from pottery to photography, and artisan foods including cheeses, breads, dips, jams and sweets, Lail said. Additionally, Lodge Manufacturing has a featured booth offering its cast-iron products for direct sale.

This Saturday, Lodge also will sponsor a Cast Iron Bake-off among four Chattanooga chefs: Micah Adams of Slick's Burgers, Kenyatta Ashford of Neutral Ground, Nick Goeller of the Walden Club, and J.R. Crutcher of Cafe on the Corner.

Starting at 11:30 a.m., they will show off their holiday baking skills using Lodge's latest line of bakeware and incorporating a secret ingredient they'll learn on the spot. A panel of judges will determine a winner around 1:30 p.m., Lail said.


DEC. 11-18

* Northgate Mall Christmas Market: 271 Northgate Mall Drive, Hixson. Storefront set up with merchandise from 48 vendors, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Dec. 11-12, noon-7 p.m. Dec. 13, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Dec. 14-17, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Dec. 18. Free admission. https://www.knscraftshow.com/

DEC. 12-13

* Mistletoe Market: Collegedale Commons, 4950 Swinyar Drive. (Previously Christmas on Cambridge Square.) Crafts and food vendors, photos with Santa (Saturday only), 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Free admission. https://touchtheskyevents.com

DEC. 12-13, 19-20

* Chattanooga Holiday Market: Chattanooga Convention Center, 1 Carter Plaza. Nearly 200 vendors offer handicrafts, fine art and artisan food, plus live music and holiday bake-off with Lodge cast iron on Dec. 12; no Santa appearance this year; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays. Free admission. ChattanoogaMarket.com

Email Lisa Denton at ldenton@timesfreepress.com.