ROCKINGHAM — With Thanksgiving in the rear view mirror, Richmond County residents can turn their holiday attention towards the 10th annual Christmas on the Square.
About 90 vendors have registered for the 20th annual yuletide celebration in downtown Rockingham’s Harrington Square, scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Dec.3. Carolyn Ford, who chairs the Rockingham Downtown Corp. committee tasked with organizing the event, said she hopes to sign up 100 or more.
“I’m not crazy on commercializing Christmas,” Ford said, “but this event is to bring as many people downtown as possible for these vendors, because this is really what gets a lot of them through the Christmas season.”
Those attending can find unique handmade Christmas gifts for relatives and friends at the annual craft fair. Many vendors return each year, but the lineup of handmade merchandise changes as artisans hone new crafts.
“I just like the fact that most of the vendors who come to sell crafts are people who just do it for hobbies,” said Ford. “Christmas on the Square might be the only festival they come to. It gives them a chance to showcase their talents.”
Twelve food vendors — up from five last year — have signed up to serve treats at the festival, but Ford said the majority of booths will be for homemade crafts and goods.
Small businesses and non-profits pay $50 for booth space, while for-profit food vendors pay a $100 fee.
Weather permitting, Santa Claus will greet children in front of the Richmond Community Theatre. Ol’ Saint Nick will move inside the theater in the event of rain.
Christmas on the Square will feature a free kids’ zone with an inflatable slide, bounce castle and rock-climbing wall. A kiddie train and petting zoo will add to the holiday fun.
“If we invite the churches and schools, then every school who’s there is going to have grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles coming out,” Ford said. “As long as the kids are sticking around, the parents are here sticking around and shopping.”
The festival also will include a classic car show hosted by the Richmond Cruisers and Lucy Allen, author of the devotional book “The Pond” and Hamlet resident, will be on hand to sign copies.
Other groups in attendance will be the Lions Club and its Vision Van, as well as the Richmond County Animal Advocates’ ever-popular kissing booth. The pet-kissing booth will be based on donations and will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
While attendees shop for Christmas gifts from local merchants, they’re also encouraged to bring new, unwrapped toys or cash donations for the Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots campaign.
“Everything’s on track,” Ford said. “There will always be something going on that day.”
For more information about Christmas on the Square or for a vendor application, call Ford at 910-895-9088 or 910-995-2986.
Reach reporter Matt Harrelson at 910-817-2674 and follow him on Twitter @mattyharrelson.