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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Ring in the Holidays at Haven Holiday Market

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Ring in the Holidays at Haven Holiday Market

by James Coulter

Thanksgiving is around the corner, which means Christmas is following close behind. There’s no better time to start your holiday shopping than right now! But when, exactly, is the best time to start shopping for the holiday season?

You could wait outside the mall or department store on Thanksgiving night, then fight other customers in the rabid rush to grab the hottest Black Friday savings with all your money going to a large multinational corporation.

Or you could keep your money local by shopping local and buying handmade arts and crafts from local vendors, all in a much more laid-back atmosphere by strolling through Downtown Winter Haven during a less busy weekend.

If the latter option sounds better, then feel free to drop by the Annual Haven Holiday Market this Sat. Nov. 18 from 10 AM – 4 PM at Central Park in Downtown Winter Haven.

More than 200 local vendors will showcase their handmade arts and crafts in Central Park, located right across from the Winter Haven Public Library in Downtown Winter Haven. Stroll through a winter wonderland while perusing holiday gifts created locally by local entrepreneurs and enjoying live music, food trucks, and other fun activities.

For nearly a decade, the Haven Holiday Markey has grown leaps and bounds into one of the largest holiday markets in Central Florida. What started with roughly 69 to 72 booths has since expanded into 200 and draws in thousands of visitors each year, explained Sergio Cruz, Event Coordinator with Winter Haven Saturday Markets.

Cruz started his marketplace venue nearly 20 years ago. He wanted to fill a niche that he felt was missing in Downtown Winter Haven, which were monthly and annual markets to help promote local artists and craftsmen as well as draw residents and visitors alike to Downtown Winter Haven.

“I noticed there was something missing in the parks,” he said. “I came to find out that it was the little gem that was missing in our beautiful Central Park located in downtown Winter Haven. We needed something where we could gather community, families, the elderly, the handicapped with their pets, so I decided to co-found Winter Haven Saturday Markets.”

Since starting the Haven Holiday Market nearly a decade ago, the annual holiday event has drawn in hundreds of vendors and thousands of visitors. Last year alone, more than 200 vendors and 1,000 visitors attended. He hopes this year will prove bigger and better than ever, he said.

“It was the best thing we ever done,” he said. “We host it before Black Friday, so it says a lot. The people are ready to shop. The people are ready to look for the personal gift. The people are excited to go on about and people have money to spend. We have this before Black Friday. All of those things combined are why Haven Holiday Market is the most successful event year after year.”

Sergio Cruz appeared on a recent episode of the Chattin on the Ridge podcast to discuss the Haven Holiday Market. Learn more by listening to the episode at: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/chattinontheridge/episodes/Ep–14-Sergio-Cruz-e2au540

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