Christmas in the Country is a grassroots, homespun approach to celebrating the holidays on Bainbridge Island, a gathering of family and friends to engage in festive fun while shopping for handmade, unique gifts. It began in 1993 in the south end of the Island including the Director's cottage industry, Rose of Sharon's, Bunny Cameron's Bombay House B&B, the shops at Lynwood Center, Priscilla Lange's Christmas decor warehouse, and Countryman Stables offering the free pony rides, an altruistic community service offered now for sixteen years by the Countrymans. Cathy Fraaga's Gazzam House was a smashing hit for several years.
Most all of the venues then were historic some dating back to the 1870s through about the 1930s. Relating the stories of the old mill while entering the homes and buildings that played a significant role in that history, visitors experienced "a Dickens of a Christmas", a bit of Christmases past during the present. Part of the charm of the event is meeting people whose ancestors contributed in significant ways to Bainbridge Island, many whose memory is honored as names of our roads. The country roads themselves, some old and worn from travel, are beautifully tree-lined, winding and hilly adding a vicarious ambience of the experience of a Christmas trip to Grandma's house or the anticipation of fellowship with friends.
In 1996, The Studio Tour changed from its traditional November dates and moved their event to the same weekend as Christmas in the Country, the first Friday, Saturday & Sunday in December. The cumulative effect of the two different tours created an Island-wide art extravaganza that continues to this day. In 1998 the tour expanded to include the entire Island. Bob and Carolee Pedersen's Christmas House, Dottie Pacheski's Willow Brook Farm, and a bit later, Fortner Books (now Sweetlife Farm), Stephens House, (nonprofit home to the Special Needs Foundation), and Hazel Creek Farm joined as venues hosting artists. For about five years, Lucia Olson's Little Yellow Farmhouse represented a quintessential country Christmas and for two years Bart & Dana Berg's Blackberry Hill Farm brought us into the experiential realm of a Norwegian Christmas celebration. Various other venues joined for a year or two including the nonprofit Creativity Center, Blakely House, Duncan House, Port Madison Design, Dolphin Place, 47 West, Finders Keepers, The Children's Museum, Gail Bard's B&B, Teri Cole's Cuckoo for Christmas, and several others.
Every year new artists join the mix of steady participants enticing shoppers to explore a plethora of exciting new arts & crafts. With the joining of Hazel Creek Farm, Santa photos were added along with live music performances.
Every year the event develops it own persona while it grows and grows and grows. Below you will meet the new Director and Owners( Since May, 2010) of Christmas in the Country and see some of the poster art used for marketing over the years and pictures of art and activities from past wonderful years of Christmas in the Country.
Sok Kheng Martz "Soks"
Soks Martz New Director of Christmas in the Country llc
"Bottled energy with an effervescent smile" befits a description of Soks Martz the new Director of Christmas in the Country llc. Soks has been a loyal participant as a vendor in Christmas in the Country for many years. She is well-known for her incredible Santa figures dressed in antique quilts and her snowmen wearing couture from old chenille bedspreads. Soks comes with an impressive history in organizing and managing arts and crafts events. Please read a full biography of Soks on the Artists' Biographies page.
To reach Soks please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 206 291-7188
Soks, Retiring Director, Sharon Soames, Tim Martz
Dickens of a Christmas
Map by Jon Quanrud
Christmas in the Country 2000
Christmas in the Country 2001 - Pamela Fermanis artist