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People flocked to Kimmswick for the annual Old-Fashioned Christmas Festival and Cookie Walk, held from Dec. 6-8, said Betteanne Smith, president of the Kimmswick Merchants Association.

She estimated between 5,000 and 6,000 people participated in the event, which had businesses staying open late each of the three days.

“It was probably our busiest ever,” said Smith, who has owned the Mississippi Mud Gallery and Gift Shop for 13 years.

She said 1,000 tickets were sold for the cookie walk, which included a cookbook filled with the sweet recipes submitted by the merchants, a gift bag and a map to the 27 participating merchants.

Smith said the Merchants Association sold 800 tickets to the event last year and increased the number this year to try to allow for ticket sales during the festival. However, the tickets were sold out by Nov. 16.

“It is amazing,” Smith said. “It has become such a family tradition. Some people have come since the beginning nine years ago, and it continues to grow every year. We were thrilled.”

Smith said the merchants may increase the number of tickets sold for the cookie walk again next year.

“The first year we sold 200, and we thought that was a lot,” Smith said. “We will have to talk about it. We just don’t know at this point. We do sell the recipe books at the Visitors Center. If someone didn’t get the cookie walk ticket, they can buy the recipe book with all of the great recipes in it. Those are still available.”

Proceeds from the event go toward helping fund the operation of the

KimmswickVisitors Center.

The streets were decorated with luminaria, members of the Kimmswick Historical Society gave tours of the Burgess How House, children got to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus at his house at 111 Market St. and carolers strolled through the town throughout the weekend. There also was a performance by the Rivertown Sound Quartet on Dec. 8. Smith said many merchants set up fire pits outside their businesses for visitors to enjoy.

“It was a nice old-time, small-town event,” Smith said. “It is very energizing because people are so happy. We do luminarias on Hwy. K. That is all volunteer hours that go into putting that up. This is all merchant inspired and put together. It takes a lot of man hours, but we love doing it.”

Kimmswick’s Christmas celebration continued Dec. 14, with an Elf on The Shelf event, but the two-day event had to be cut short because of snow and ice that moved into the area on Dec. 15. Smith said about 90 children were able to enjoy the event before it was canceled.

Smith said because the second day of Elf on The Shelf was canceled, the city will hold the event again – on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 21-22. Anyone who purchased a ticket but didn’t use it this past weekend can use it this weekend, and Smith said there are still tickets available for the event.

“With this weather, we are happy we can do it again,” Smith said. “The weather sounds much better this weekend for one last big push before Christmas.”

Smith said the Merchants Association collected about 12 gifts Dec. 14 that will be distributed to families in need.

She said donations will be collected again this weekend.

Along with the extra day of Elf on The Shelf, Kimmswick will have its first Ugly Sweater Day on Saturday, Dec. 21.

Shoppers are invited to wear their favorite ugly holiday sweater, enter a contest for the best (or worst) that will be held at 2 p.m. and play Ugly Sweater Bingo by filling out a card and visiting participating shops in the town.

“I think it is going to be a whole lot of fun,” Smith said. “We don’t sell tickets, so we don’t have a sense of how many people will come. I saw a lot of interesting, colorful sweaters during the Cookie Walk, and I suggested they come back and they might win a cash prize. Time will tell how it goes, but we are looking forward to something new to do on (Dec. 21).”