MERIDEN — The annual Meriden YuleFest is virtual this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The event, which began last week, runs until Dec. 16.
“With the online market, the vendors will have the opportunity to go live through a live feed where they can talk to those who are on there and have any questions about their products and stuff like that,” said Carrie Teele, event coordinator.
Gallery 53, one of the event vendors, is planning live events to showcase different products, such as ornaments.
“We’re a bit different from some of the other vendors,” said Rosemary Devlin, Gallery 53’s webmaster and social media coordinator. “We’re not restricted to a single product or product line. Our store represents hundreds or several hundred regional artisans.”
Amy Carpenter, the owner of Lefty Crafty LLC, said she’s choosing to post pictures of her products on the YuleFest Facebook page.
“I personalize all types of products,” Carpenter said. “This time of year, I do a lot of ornaments with names on them or hobbies. I also make t-shirts, personalized tumblers, chalkboards with different things on them. The tumblers can be made with glitter or stainless steel and then I put a decal on them. They are sealed with epoxy.”
The YuleFest is also offering the Meriden YulePass. Anyone can participate by visiting and receiving a stamp from all 11 shops on the pass.
“It’s a great way for people to go inside small businesses that they probably were somewhat unaware of,” Teele said. “... Some of them are just new businesses and they need the extra support.”
Because the in-person festival date was canceled, Teele said that the YulePass will go on for a month instead of the usual four hours, making it due Dec. 21. New destinations were also added to the pass. No purchase is necessary.
Even though the YuleFest is virtual this year, downtown Meriden will still be decorated for the holiday season.
Casertano Greenhouse and Farms donated the garland
“Every year, Casertano donates to the Meriden YuleFest with the garlands that you see up around the pole lights,” Teele said.
Half of the lights that are around the poles were donated by the Meriden-New Britain-Berlin YMCA. The other half were purchased by the YuleFest committee.
“We donated some money to purchase some lights and some flags and wreaths,” said John Benigni, CEO of the Meriden-New Britain-Berlin YMCA.
The Christmas trees in the Pocket Park and the larger tree in the amphitheater were donated by the Kogut Hemlock Tree Farm.
“Everybody is very depressed this year with COVID-19 and I think that anything that can cheer people up, we’re happy to be a part of,” said Kathy Kogut, owner of the Kogut Hemlock Tree Farm.
The Meriden Parks & Recreation Department helped set up the garland and the lights on the street poles.
“In previous years we’ve done it ourselves,” Teele said. “... They offered to help us.”
By continuing the YuleFest and decorating, Teele hopes the event will bring some holiday spirit to the community
“It just brings a little ambiance, a little festive,” Teele said.