The Origin of the Lake Mohawk German Christmas Market
The idea of the German themed market was brought to life in 2001 by a group of volunteers desiring to raise funds for local charities, while creating a unique event that is open to the public along the idyllic boardwalk of the Lake Mohawk Country Club. The location of Lake Mohawk was a picture-perfect backdrop to recreate an authentic German market form the old country.
Now recognized as the largest Annual Christmas Market in the State of New Jersey, the only German Christmas Market to be run specifically to donate back into the community, it has become a fixture in the local region. In 2013 NJ.com ranked The Lake Mohawk German Christmas Market as one of the Top 10 things to do in December in the State.
Lake Mohawk and it’s surrounding countryside has been a magnet for immigrants of German decent. The Bavarian village architecture and local shops show this influence. The group that formed the Market was nostalgic for the German Christmas Market they grew up with and decided what better setting than Lake Mohawk to bring a long-loved tradition to America.
For the first few years, the market opened after the traditional First Friday in December Tree-Lighting ceremony on the boardwalk hosted by the Lake Mohawk Country Club. Open late into the evening and then all day Saturday the market was open for shoppers. It was completely held on the boardwalk and often snow would lace the tents and a cold wind might show up across the lake. As the market’s reputation grew, so did the numbers of visitors. The tree-lighting ceremony was followed by a members-only banquet in the Ballroom so space was getting cramped. There were also calls to extend the market to Sunday.
In 2010, the market was moved from Friday-Saturday to Saturday-Sunday. While this upset some patrons as they could no longer shop after the tree-lighting, it did allow the market for the first time to have indoor space, thus increasing the vendors and providing warmth for the shoppers. A Deutsche Cafe was setup in the Elk’s Club hosting four food vendors and seating, and more vendors signed up for outside space in addition to new inside space in the Lake Mohawk Country Club Ballroom.
In 2011, with further growth and support from the community and merchants the market expanded into White Deer Plaza. Krogh’s Restaurant and Brew Pub hosted a vendor tent and live music. Arthur’s St. Mortiz (Now St. Moritz Grill & Bar) hosted more entertianment; both establishments offered a German-themed menu for the day.
2012 saw the Market expand once again. A carousel was situated in White Deer Plaza next door to the newly renovated St. Moritz Grill & Bar that was enjoyed by many children and parents alike. Additionally the Market continues to expand along the Boardwalk, with some 6 additional vendors that spread all the way down to an entertainment tent on Beach #1. 2012 was also the first year that Lake Mohawk Country Club totally embraced the Market allowing the full use of the building. This allowed additional vendors to be placed inside the Papoose Room and inside entertainment to take place inside the Mohawk Room. Our vendor attendance was once more sold out and we were able to double the number of local groups that brought their entertainment skills for our enjoyment.
2013 saw the number of Vendors continue to grow as we sought to expand further along the Lake Mohawk Boardwalk from Beach #1 towards the playground. After the 2012 success of the carousel, the 2013 children’s activity was a charming trackless train that was found at the main entrance to the Lake Mohawk Country Club. In 2013, not only a record number of vendors but an all time record of approximately 18,000 attendees to the Market over the weekend’s festivities.
The vendors either on the boardwalk or inside the Country Club offer unique and traditional gift items: from European chocolates to hand-crafted pottery, fine artisans will offer works across a variety of mediums such as woods and metals through to fabrics. As you browse the market you will also find timeless German traditional hand crafted wooden nutcrackers, pyramids, schwibbogen and smoker men to decorate your home for the holidays.
2014 was another landmark year as the look of the market started to change its appearance with traditional Huts. The Hut Project was brought to life through the generosity and philanthropy of John Kweselait, Owner of Custom Wood Furniture in Newton. He has seen the Market grow since its conception and loves the community event it has now become and represents. John dedicated his time, resources, design team and production staff and builders to produce a design that truly embraces the traditional hut concept whilst respecting the beauty of Lake Mohawk and the surrounding buildings of The Boardwalk and White Deer Plaza. Special thanks to John for this generous donation and commitment to the continued success of the market for future years to come.
While you personalize your holiday shopping, tantalizing smells will dance among the vendors set along the picturesque lakefront, as traditional items from sizzling German sausages, sumptuous soups, goulash and sauerbraten to hand warming hot chocolate, apple struedel, linzer tarts, and gingerbread men and warmed mulled spice wine (gluhwein) are prepared among the festive chorus’s of local school choirs and entertainers.
The continued generosity of our sponsors & service providers our group of dedicated volunteers to continue to organize this truly unique event in a truly wonderful setting. A special thank you to our major sponsor, Lake Mohawk Country Club and staff.
The Lake Mohawk German Christmas Market delivers fun and festivity to everyone, but importantly, proceeds raised are then distributed back into the local community.
2015 Donations to Charities and Supporting Organizations: United Way of Sussex County $2,500 First Presbyterian Church of Sparta – Food Bank $2,500 DASI (Domestic Abuse Services Inc) $1,000 Partnership for Social Services $1,000 Meals on Wheels $1,000 Samaritan Inn $1,000 Karen Ann Quinlan Memorial Foundation $1,000 Coupons for the Community $1,250 Ginnie’s House $1,250 Manna House $1,000 Sussex County Arts Council $1,000 Center for Prevention and Counseling $1,000 Birth Haven $1,250 Lenape Valley Regional High School – German Language Dept $400 Sparta Board of Education – German Language Dept $1,750 NORWESCAP First Book $1,000 Sparta Elks Lodge $1,300 In-kind awards recognized: First Book / NORWESCAP Sparta Kiwanis Saint Kateri Squires Boy Scout Troop # 82 German Language School of Morris County Sparta/Jefferson Rotary Club Marine Corps League, Slattery Detachment Lake Mohawk Country Club – House Committee Total Direct Donations 2014 – $21,200 In-kind awards – $4,600 Total Donations for 2014 – $25,800
The Committee would like to say a massive THANK YOU to Custom Wood Furniture of Newton for all of the work that has gone into creating our Huts for the 2014 Market … and for future years to come. Without John Kweselait and his generosity of time and his commitment to the local community spirit, (which the Market both embraces and encapsulates), this project would not have been possible.
John at Custom Wood Furniture has designed the Huts specifically to embrace the spirit of a traditional German Christmas Market while keeping them in context with the beautiful surroundings of Lake Mohawk and the buildings in White Deer Plaza. They are a wonderful addition and we are very proud to announce our first sponsors for the first six huts that were built in 2014: Thank you all for getting the ball rolling and helping make this transition a reality.
HUT SPONSORS (2014 to 2018)
- Custom Wood Furniture, Newton
- Lake Mohawk Country Club, Sparta
- Realty Executives, Sparta
- 27 State Street B&B, Charleston
- Frank Wood Interiors, Sparta
- Weichert Realtors, Sparta
The Sparta Town Council and local Sparta Police have most helpful and instrumental in the continued success of the market. Thank you!