By SASHA JOHNS / Community Columnist
Dec. 5 is shaping up to be a great day to visit the Columbiana area in Shelby County. In addition to the Christmas Parade on the evening before and the Holiday Artists’ Market at the Shelby County Arts Council, the Alabama 4H center will be hosting its first Winter Festival from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
A wide variety of vendors and makers, 50 in all, will be generously and safely spaced inside and outside the 4-H center in order to give groups traveling together plenty of room to be safe.
Shelby County’s 4H center has long been a favorite conference center in the area. With bookings down for the year due to the pandemic, the staff came up with this event to not only benefit the facility but also, to give local entrepreneurs the opportunity to bring in some Christmas business as well.
The entry fee at the door for the festival is just eight dollars, and those who purchase early bird registration will save three dollars and get into the event an hour early as well. Those interested in the early bird offer can find the information and links on the Alabama 4-H Center Facebook page. For a little extra fun, there will be tailgating and outdoor Christmas movies after the event from 5:30 to 10 p.m.
The Alabama 4-H center is a hidden gem in Shelby County. In addition to being a great venue for conferences, and weddings, the center also hosts a popular summer camp and a Science Center that hosts educational events for youth year-round like their recent “A Night Under the Stars” telescope class in November. Guests can check the Alabama 4-H Center website for classes and special homeschool events.
The hope is that the Winter Festival will not only bring people out to shop for Christmas but also renew interest in the benefits that the facility can offer business groups and families. “There is so much to do here. It’s one of the county’s best-kept secrets,” one of the staff told us. Just like many other service-oriented businesses, the center has taken a hit and is doing its best to stay viable. Thinking outside the box by hosting events like this is just one example of how many small businesses are adapting and changing in order to make it through the struggles of the pandemic.
“We’ve for sure felt the effects of the change in the economy,” staff member Jon Harrison told us, “and we know that many small cottage and handmade businesses have too. This festival is an attempt to help everyone and we hope that people from all over make it out to shop this weekend.”
The Alabama 4-H center is located at 892 Four H Road in Columbiana.