Eastern Ohio’s Holiday Attraction:
Steubenville Nutcracker Village
What do Dr. Who, the Tin Man, Nurse Florence, Clark Kent, Mother Theresa, and Hairdresser Sue have in common? They are among the 150 life-sized Nutcrackers that take over Fort Steuben Park for the 3rd annual Steubenville Nutcracker Village and Advent Market.
Historic Fort Steuben and Nelson’s of Steubenville present this unique attraction, proudly sponsored by Trinity Health System, that features locally designed and fabricated Nutcrackers, each one representing a well-known character, mascot or profession. These colorful figures are arrayed under tunnels of sparkling lights, with holiday music streaming in the background, evoking smiles and selfies and lots of joy. With the Nutcrackers on display 24/7, there are plenty of opportunities to revisit.
Nutcrackers also are among the holiday themed décor that transforms the Exhibit Hall in the Fort Steuben Visitor Center into a Christmas Wonderland that welcomes young and old. Amidst a variety of decorated trees, visitors can watch the model railroad and view the toys and gifts reminiscent of past holidays. Youngsters can write letters to Santa and take photos by the Holiday Horse. Collectible nutcrackers, books, puzzles and gift items are on sale in the Fort Steuben Gift Shop, open daily in the Visitor Center from 10am to 6pm.
On the weekends, the Advent Market is open with artisans offering specialty crafts and baked goods in holiday chalets set around the 30’ Christmas Tree. Shoppers can browse and purchase homemade fudge, woodcrafts, local honey, herbal products, food and handmade crafts as well Nutcracker souvenirs. Entertainment by area performers, church and school choirs and popular regional bands fill the air with holiday music. Visit the beautiful nativity and historic First Federal Land Office, decorated for a 19th century Christmas. Jump on board the hayride or the Holly Trolley to cruise the downtown and marvel at the magnificent stained-glass windows in the downtown churches. The Market will be open from 3pm-8pm on Fridays and Saturdays, 1pm-6pm on Sundays.
An original musical production based on the characters of the Steubenville Nutcracker Village and using the familiar melodies of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite – The Wooden Hearts Follies – will be performed on four Sunday afternoons (Nov. 26, Dec. 3, Dec. 10 & Dec. 17). This clever comedy will delight young and old; tickets can be obtained in advance online or at the Visitor Center.
What would the holidays be without a parade and the Nutcrackers will be featured in the Steubenville Sights and Sounds of Christmas Parade at noon on Saturday, December 9th. There are expected to be over 70 units including bands, floats and dance troupes that will travel through the downtown. The nearby Advent Market will be open from 11am to 8pm that day.
The stars of the show are the charming Nutcrackers themselves. Nelsons of Steubenville founder and manager Mark Nelson explained the process. “We began as woodcrafters and our team of craftsmen simply adapted the tools and equipment to produce a light weight product made from a dense foam. My daughter Thérèse is the artist who designs and oversees the painting of the Nutcrackers. They have become so popular that we have a year’s waiting list for special orders!”
The Nutcrackers have also found a home during the year at Drosselmeyer’s Nutcracker Shoppe on N. 4th Street where all things Nutcracker can be found as well as tasty treats from the Steubenville Popcorn Company. Visitors can also browse the lovely designs at nearby McCauslen’s Florist and the wonderful selection of books at BookMarx Bookstore.
Judy Bratten, director of Historic Fort Steuben and the Visitor Center, noted that last year’s event drew thousands of people to the area. “It was a wonderful time for families, friends and visitors from out of town. Everyone was filled with the joy of the season and exclaimed over the magical experience on social media. We were listed as one of the ten ‘most unforgettable winter festivals in Ohio’ in 2016.”
For more information on the Steubenville Nutcracker Village and Advent Market, contact the Fort Steuben Visitor Center, 120 S. 3rd Street, Steubenville OH or 866-301-1787 or visit the website, www.steubenvillenutcrackervillage.com.