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Century Downs market offers German shopping experience

Century Downs Racetrack and Casino’s fourth annual Christmas market will offer residents an opportunity to get some holiday shopping done without braving busy malls.
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A shopper admires artwork in the barns at Century Downs Racetrack and Casino during last year’s Christmas market. This year’s market will take place Dec. 1 and 2.

Century Downs Racetrack and Casino’s fourth annual Christmas market will offer residents an opportunity to get some holiday shopping done without braving busy malls. Marketing Manager Karen Franco said more than 65 vendors from Airdrie, Calgary and surrounding area are confirmed for the market, which will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Dec. 1 and 2. “We’ve tried to concentrate and give our local vendors an opportunity to get in there,” she said. “You’re going to find a lot of crafts and homemade items – everything from wood benches to interesting spice combinations, to knitting and sewing projects.” According to Franco, the market is once again German-themed, paying homage to the food and flavours of executive chef Josef Schonauer’s childhood. “Our chef, and our kitchen, takes great pleasure in putting together all sorts of snacks for people to nibble on throughout the day,” Franco said. “Everything from German bratwurst and pretzels and mulled wine, just to give it kind of an authentic flavor.” In past years, the market was just a one-day event. Franco estimated last year saw 2,000 shoppers, and that demand led to the market’s expansion to two days. “Hopefully, the two days will give people more time and they can enjoy the market, perhaps with a little less crowd,” she said. The market’s setting at the racetrack makes it distinctive compared to other, similar markets popping up this time of year, Franco said. “In the past…we haven’t had horse racing going on, and we’ve done it in our barns,” she said. “This year, we do have horse racing going on. We’re still doing it in the actual horse barns.” Franco believes the barns lend a one-of-a-kind atmosphere to the market. Additionally, an area of the market will be set up with ponies for children to admire. Franco said shoppers can also take a break from shopping to watch the horse races, starting at 12:45 p.m. – providing a full-day experience. “For us, the market is a great opportunity to do something for the community around us,” Franco said. “It’s a great opportunity to share our facility with the community. Hopefully, people who’ve never had a chance to come out here, this gives them a reason to come and visit us and see the facility and get a sense of what goes on here at the track.”