Christkindlmarket Naperville sees 'outstanding' first season
Christkindlmarket Naperville was bustling throughout its first holiday season, with an estimated 208,000 visitors reported during its 21-day run.
Naper Settlement, which hosted the popular German market for the first time late last year, released the attendance figure along with survey results showing the event had a wide regional pull and likely a positive economic impact.
Of the visitors randomly surveyed throughout the market's run on select days from Black Friday to Christmas Eve, 78 percent said they shopped and/or dined at other locations in downtown Naperville during their stay.
"The numbers are outstanding," said Katie Wood, executive director of the Downtown Naperville Alliance, which markets and promotes businesses in the area. "How can you beat 208,000 visitors coming to your community? It's great."
Wood said restaurants, especially, loved the market and its ability to draw newcomers to the area hungry for a meal after a glass of traditional gluhwein or an apple cider doughnut, 73,500 of which were consumed during the event.
But she said retailers' reaction was more of a mixed bag, as the market put on by German American Events offered 33 vendors selling handcrafted gifts and goods that in some cases competed with existing businesses.
Rena Tamayo-Calabrese, Naper Settlement president and CEO, said the history museum always predicted success for its first year of partnering with Christkindlmarket, but 208,000 visitors exceeded expectations.
Of those visitors, an estimated 22 percent were from Naperville. Others came from throughout the region and even other states.
The museum and the city received one complaint from a Webster Street neighbor concerned about the foot and vehicle traffic using the street in front of their home to enter the festival.
"If you lived there, you were inundated," Steve Rubin, chairman of the downtown advisory commission, said about Webster Street on the east side of the settlement's 12-acre property. "With all the great things, we know there are some challenges, and we're going to address them as Naperville always does."