HARPERS FERRY – For storekeeper Cindi Dunn, readying for Christmas here means taking a truly old-fashioned approach: The gifts she buys for family and friends all come from local shops, and she urges others to take a step in that direction, too.
“I challenge everyone to purchase at least two items that are made by artists from your state,” explains Dunn, the owner of The Vintage Lady at 180 High St. in historic Harpers Ferry. “Supporting local arts and crafts is keeping folks employed and also taking ‘Buy American’ one step further.
“Each state of our great country has a wealth of fine craftspeople who are creating lasting items – many based on techniques passed down from generation to generation. These are not sweatshops… these are not items made with cheaply made, imported materials. These are items that represent the quality that is ‘Made in America.’
While the “Buy Local” movement continues to gain ground, Dunn and other shopkeepers in Harpers Ferry have for decades been focused on making holiday shopping the pleasure it was in a simpler time. In this lovely, historic village, early December is recreated as the Christmas of 1860.
Here, small charming shops are decked out with red ribbons, pine wreaths and ropes of greenery. When Olde Tyme Harpers Ferry kicks off its 42nd year on Nov. 30 with an opening ceremony on Shenandoah Street, revelers – many wearing hoop skirts and Victorian topcoats and hats – will warm themselves around a Yule log, march up the cobbled street singing 19th-century Christmas carols and, if they’d like, get further into the Christmas past mood by purchasing roasted chestnuts, hot apple cider and other Victorian-era treats.
Many from outside the Eastern Panhandle make a getaway to Harpers Ferry part of their pre-Christmas ritual year after year, Dunn said. “There’s a slightly slower pace than taking in Santa at the mall,” she said. “It’s full of music and activities that allow you to step back in time.”
This year, the special holiday fun continues through Dec. 9. Dozens of free events are part of the Christmas celebration put on by the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, the Harpers Ferry Merchants Association, other business owners and town leaders.
Attractions will include a live Nativity at St. Peter’s Catholic Church; traditional music from the Rolling Coyotes and other local bands and choirs; ornament making, cookie decorating and other activities for youngsters; horse and wagon rides; and the chance to visit with a Victorian-era Santa and Mrs. Claus.
For a full schedule of events, go to