Aldona Bird, Community, Editorial Author

Christmas at the Barn runs Nov. 7-10

Eight weeks, y’all — just eight short weeks!

My fellow DIYers and yuletide enthusiasts will know that’s how many weeks remain until the big day: Christmas Eve!

Already next weekend in Preston County, we get our first taste of the holiday season at Masontown’s Christmas at the Barn.

From noon-9 p.m. Nov. 7-9 and from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Nov. 10, BR Farm will turn into a magical holiday shopping village, complete with carolers, festive refreshments, locally handmade items, vintage goods and, best of all, friends and family.

The hardworking team of Santa’s helpers who make this treat happen for the community include Brenda Street and Deb Umble.

Deb has been pitching in most of the 25 years this event has been happening. Brenda, a vendor for many years, jumped in to help four years ago when the event outgrew it’s previous location in Point Marion (then called Christmas at the Cabin) and moved to her family’s working farm on Herring Road.

For the four-day event, the team turns eight functional farm buildings into a greeting card scene. But unlike Santa’s gift delivery, it takes more than a night’s preparation.

“We’ve been setting up since the middle of September,” Brenda said. Deb said their first task is to “scrape the cow poop off the floors.”

Once that job is complete, they assign a theme to each building, including: The white room (every item is white!), the farmers market (with preserves), children’s area, the she shed and man cave, among others. Then, they assign items from over 40 vendors into each appropriate room.

They don’t leave all the work of finding and selling treasures to other vendors, though.

“We collect, we re-purpose,” Deb said, starting the week after the event closes to prepare for the next year.

Online, they describe the selection of available items as, “folk art, antiques, primitives, tattered treasures, rescued furniture, shabby-chic, handcrafted jewelry, steam-punk, fun and funky creations, homemade soap, candles, jams, jellies, candy, sundries, along with old stuff and junk!!”

Deb and Brenda explained they are mindful about the prices — they want everyone to be able to come and shop, so they maintain a range of prices. But they said not to expect to pop by for an hour and see everything — this is a slow shopping experience to be savored, not rushed.

“Just take your time, and enjoy life,” Deb said. While you’re enjoying life and holiday shopping at the barn, you can also enjoy food from Mountain State BBQ, drinks and desserts from Modern Homestead and fresh gourmet popcorn.

Christmas music will play throughout, and on Friday night Montani Cantanti VTC Opera Troupe will sing carols. Deb said, “Santa finally answered my text. He is going to be here Saturday.”

Brenda’s warmest memory of the last four years hosting Christmas at the Barn was looking out over the circle of buildings from a balcony and marveling at how many people came to enjoy their hard work.

But more than hard work goes into making this holiday season kickoff special.

“It’s my passion,” Brenda said. Passion is evident in the care and attention to detail she and her team put into Christmas at the Barn.

“Everything just got bigger and better than we thought,” Brenda said.

Right after we finish our shopping, BR farm turns back into a working farm, and the cows start having their babies.

ALDONA BIRD is a journalist, previously writing for The Dominion Post. She explores possibilities of local productivity and sustainable living in Preston County.