German sausages and pumpkin loaf. A visit from European Saint Nicholas. And plenty of handmade gifts. If you’re up for a true community celebration, you won’t want to miss this year’s Tacoma Striezelmarkt on Saturday, November 30. Now in its third year, this festival is free, open to all, and especially important, it benefits a good cause. Everyone can come “be German for a day” and enjoy the sights and sounds. If you attend, you’ll also be helping support an important issue facing Tacoma: all proceeds benefit the homeless.

A brain child of the La Paloma Marketplace founder Molly Alvarado, Striezelmarkt brings the traditional German Christmas market concept to Tacoma. It has grown and evolved from year to year. The 2019 event will be held at the Slovanian Hall in Old Town. “I love supporting Old Town, with its many local businesses, and the Slovanian Hall perfect for this European event,” says Alvarado. The location also celebrates the rich immigrant history of Tacoma. Where past Striezelmarkts have been held outdoors, this year’s gala will feature an indoor, coffee-house style theme that is reminiscent of European coffee shops, and perfect for families and those who may not be comfortable in the cold.

Molly Alvarado
Local Molly Alvarado put together this special event to help the community celebrate together while supporting a cause. Photo credit: Gale Hemmann

At Striezelmarkt 2019, you’ll find traditional German pretzels from Hess Bakery (a Striezelmarkt staple, of course) as well as a tempting array of more treats: vegan pumpkin loaf and custom gingerbread from Corina Bakery, German-style sausage and baked goods from Jan Parker Cookery and delicious healthy fare from Happy Belly.

“I’m so excited to support these three women-owned businesses,” says Alvarado. You can shop the handmade gift items: artisan goods made by local folks and vintage wares. Alvarado is a big supporter of the local and sustainable, and this year will be a showcase of talented artists. There will also be handmade wreaths for sale.

But the fun doesn’t stop with shopping (and eating). There will also be face painting, carols, kids crafts and a surprise appearance from Saint Nicholas. And at the heart of it all, a Gingerbread House exhibit and contest. Last year’s gingerbread village included everything from a traditional chalet to an adorable canine park, so get ready to get creative if you want to enter this year!

Striezelmarket Tacoma
Each year’s Striezelmarket features different fun opportunities for families to have fun together. Photo credit: Gale Hemmann

“The gingerbread houses together make a village, and Tacoma as a village has a need for shelter,” says Alvarado. The gingerbread village is a fundraiser for the homeless, and there will also be a raffle and auction of items donated by local businesses. To enter the contest and join the “village” finding solutions to homelessness, sign up on eventbrite. (Definitely vote for your favorite at the market, too.)

All proceeds from Striezelmarkt will go to direct homeless outreach in Tacoma. As Alvarado was personally affected by a loss due to homelessness, she is one to hit the pavement with ideas and verve. She has some innovative ideas: she recently hosted a community chili feed, and this year’s proceeds will go to services such as monthly healthy food outreach and buying motel vouchers for those in need as the weather turns cold.

Above all, Alvarado wants Streizelmarket to be a positive celebration of Tacoma. “As always, it’s a safe open space for people of all abilities. It’s about creating community, and making sure all of Tacoma’s diversity is welcome. … I love holding this event for the vendors and the community.” The event is disability-accessible.

Striezelmarket Homeless Fundraiser
Corina Bakery bakes up their special vegan pumpkin loaf and custom gingerbread for Strizelmarket each year. Photo courtesy: Corina Bakery

Alvarado, a long-time Tacoma resident, also teaches cooking classes focusing on healthy, homemade food (learn more here). This dynamic community spirit always puts on a great event, and Tacoma Strizelmarket is destined to make a memorable day. So gather your friends and family, and your Christmas shopping list, and practice saying, “Frohe Weihnachten!” That’s German for “Merry Christmas!”

Follow Tacoma Striezelmarkt on Facebook for event details and register for free on eventbrite. Tacoma Striezelmarkt will take placeSaturday, November 30, 2019 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at Slovanian Hall, 2306 North 30th Street, Tacoma, WA 98403.

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