The Chesterton European Market is a routine for many people of not only Chesterton, but all of Northwest Indiana. As winter takes over the region, these devoted shoppers have to say goodbye to Saturday morning strolls on Broadway and Third Street. Luckily, the Mistletoe Market has become a newer tradition that keeps the European Market a part of everyone’s lives.
“People look forward to the European Market year after year, and that runs May through October,” said Maura Durham, President of the Duneland Chamber of Commerce. “By December, everyone is ready to buy all their Christmas presents and to get back to all these vendors because they have wonderful, different, unique gifts.”
And the Mistletoe Market is certainly perfect for holiday shoppers. Westchester Intermediate School was taken over by dozens of vendors with jewelry, art, clothing, food, and more. European Market favorites were back, as well as new vendors that offered unique gift options for shoppers.
“[Chesterton] is such a great community,” said Deanna Kasch, European Market Director. “People come out to support their local vendors every year. Vendors know that [the Mistletoe Market] is such a strong, well-attended market, so we get a lot of vendors that want to join us in the following years. A lot of the time, it’s a group of friends or family that come to have a fun time shopping. Once you get here, you’ll know that it is a place you’ll want to come back to every year.”
The European Market was brought to the area ten years ago, and the Mistletoe Market followed just a few years afterwards. Loyal vendor Chesterton Toys has been enjoying the market’s popularity since 2011.
“We come back every year because this is the best day of the year for us to come down and sell our toys to make sure everyone gets what they need for Santa,” said Chesterton Toys Owner Tracy Melcher. “It’s just a fun day and we really enjoy the market in general. We see all kinds of people from all over Northwest Indiana. They love finding us here. I think people come back every year because there is always something new to see or something they’ve bought in years past they come back to buy again.”
There were hundreds of community members enjoying the market Saturday morning, but there was one shopper in particular who had a personal tie to the event.
When Bonnie Trout moved to the area from California, she saw an opportunity to bring the community closer together.
“When I moved here, I thought it was such a cute little town, and I knew there needed to be something to bring people in,” said Trout. “I just wanted to have something outdoors that would bring people into town, because at noon when the banks closed, you could have bowled down Broadway.”
At the time, Trout was Chamber Director, and she began the European Market that everyone knows and loves today. With humble beginnings and just 24 vendors, Trout said, “When we first started, we made sure to get a variety of vendors that were all great quality.”
Trout was also involved with the Mistletoe Market, which was actually held outdoors for its first few years. Now, as a retiree, Trout is able to enjoy the market indoors, buying gifts for her family.
“[Being here] is overwhelming. I get emotional about it. I’m thrilled when I pull in here and see so many cars. The Mistletoe Market has grown so much. It’s now a tradition for me to come shop.”