Despite inclement weather in Salem, Mount Angel's second annual Hazelnut Festival saw widespread attendance from the Portland area and even had vendors from Germany

by: LINDSAY KEEFER - Mount Angel's Hazelnut Festival offered more than hazelnuts. German vendor Wieland Stumpf shared traditional holiday sweets and handmade ornaments with guests.The second annual Mount Angel Hazelnut Festival saw high attendance despite poor weather conditions in the Salem area.

The two-day festival was held indoors at the Mount Angel Festhalle, making the vendors and patrons warmer and, perhaps, cheerier.

In previous years, Mount Angel held an outdoor Christmas market, according to volunteer and one of the event organizers Maureen Ernst.

The market featured hazelnuts in multiple forms, hazelnut tree saplings, hazelnut treats and even hazelnut canoes.

“The man who makes them made them out of filbert trees,”?said?Ernst. “He even floated the one down the Molalla River.”

But the event featured more than LINDSAY KEEFER - Santa Claus visits with Collin Drexel, 6, of Salem, in the kids craft room at the Hazelnut Festival.

A children’s craft room, complete with high school volunteers, gave entertainment for the young ones, especially when Santa Claus made his appearance late in the afternoon both days.

This year also saw more vendors, including a group from Germany, led by Wieland Stumpf, from Dresden. He said he hopes to bring the German Christmas market atmosphere to the Western United States.

“We want to get a foretaste of what products people like here,” he explained. “Mount Angel is famous for its German culture. We have a good cooperation with the city. We feel like pioneers.”

The German booth featured handmade ornaments, miniature houses and German treats, including gingerbread bites dipped in chocolate and filled with strawberry and a doughnut-like delicacy covered in powdered sugar.

“We want to show the German culture during Christmastime,” explained Kristin Prondzinski, who was serving the German treats. “We want to bring that German culture with the traditional food and handcrafted items to the U.S.”

Although that group of vendors came from Germany, many visitors came from the Portland area, Ernst said.

“The only thing that hurt us was the cold weather,” she said. “That’s why the bulk came from the Portland area.”

Ernst said the idea for a hazelnut festival came from the thought of celebrating a fast-growing industry in the Willamette Valley.

“There were 9,000 new acres of hazelnuts planted in the past year,” she said.

“Ninety percent of the country’s hazelnuts are grown right here in Oregon.”

The event also featured a lot of local entertainment, from an accordion player to a group of ukulele players from The Estates in Woodburn to the John F. Kennedy High School Jazz Band.

Throughout the day, guests could peruse through the vendor booths, sample delectable treats and sit and enjoy the holiday tunes being played onstage.

Now, Mount Angel Chamber of Commerce is preparing for the city’s next big event, Wurstfest, which is scheduled for Feb. 28 and March 1.

“I’m sad to see this over, though,” Ernst said. “I just loved working with my committee.”

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