After taking a year off, an annual local holiday shopping celebration will return with gusto.
A tradition of more than 40 years, the Sugarplum Festival will make a comeback with all of the bright decorations, local goods and delicious food on which it built its reputation.
“I hope that people come here and see something totally different, something surprising, and just something exciting to kind of shake up their day,” said Jill Carlson, the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art’s marketing manager.
Held at the museum, located at 2818 Frederick Ave., the annual celebration will kick off with a preview party from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 11. It will continue from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 12, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 13.
The tradition of the Sugarplum Festival comes down to people being offered a unique holiday shopping experience that removes the pressure and stress. Featuring local vendors, whose products range from artisan-made crafts to vintage goods, it serves as a more personal, communal experience than online shopping.
“This is an opportunity for us to showcase the many different businesses that are in this area … and all of the creative talent that we have here. We are so excited to welcome people in and to make sure that they have a really amazing holiday season,” Carlson said.
While helping small businesses means something special to the museum every year, it’s significant this year, in particular, to give local business owners a stage to sell their goods and connect with others.
“There’s over 30 local businesses, small businesses, that you can make a meaningful difference for them by coming here and seeing what they have to offer and being able to shop at their booths,” she said.
After having to cancel 2020’s festival due to rising COVID-19 numbers at the time, Carlson said people were champing at the bit to get back to it. She said they wanted to make it extra cheery and special for their big comeback.
“It’s just been in constant demand. About once a month we have at least one phone call asking about Sugarplum. ‘Will we be able to do it again this year?’ So we’re really happy to be able to do it,” she said.
In addition to the local goods, the festival will bring back its holiday food favorites in the AKMA Café and host a special “Deck the Halls” silent auction. During times when people need a break from all the holiday cheer and shopping, it will have its “Highlights of the Permanent Collection” exhibit downstairs to view.
“When you’re ready to take a little breather … you can have kind of an art break in the middle of the Sugarplum Festival,” Carlson said.
The festival acts as the biggest fundraiser for the museum, helping raise money for its many activities, like its educational program, exhibit upkeep and annual budget.
“We’ve been around for 55 years, and for the next 55 years, we want to make sure that we have the right conditions to keep the art safe and accessible, and that’s really what we’re all about. So this fundraiser makes it so that we can continue to do those things,” Carlson said.
General admission tickets on the day of the event are $10 each and free for children 12 and younger. Presale tickets are available for $8 at Cosentino’s Price Chopper, East Hills Shopping Center, Hy-Vee, Mosaic Life Care, Downtown St. Joseph Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Albrecht Kemper Museum of Art. Tickets to the preview party are $40 to $100.