No Christkindl Market This Year in Lincoln Square
St. Matthias Parish officials recently made an executive decision to stop the Christkindl Market—at least until a more cost-effective plan can be applied to the annual event.
Families in Lincoln Square will miss out on the St. Matthias Christkindl Market this year, ending a four-year festival of Christmas decorations, St. Nicholas, ice sculptures and carols.
St. Matthias Parish officials decided to cancel the Christkindl Market because the event didn’t make enough money for the amount of work put in by the church and its volunteers.
“We’re at peace with that decision,” said St. Matthias Development Director Teresa Tuohy. “We know there are going to be a lot of people disappointed; it was starting to become a tradition.”
Tuohy planned the first Christkindl Market in 2008 and it grew every year, bringing in between 10,000 and 12,000 people throughout the three-day weekend.
The festival had a suggested $3 donation for adults and included children's activities like $1 crafts and photos with St. Nicholas. As people walked and listened to Christmas carols, they could gnosh on German-themed food and drinks.
“We’re a small church and we kicked this thing off in the middle of a recession,” Tuohy said. “We made it work, but we’re not equipped yet to sustain it.”
Renting a giant heated tent and lighting the event cost about $100,000, Tuohy said. And hosting it in December amidst Chicago winters was always a risk.
The first year garnered huge support from the community, despite 18-degree weather paired with snow and ice, Tuohy said. But even with the positive reaction, the church lost thousands of dollars.
At most, the festival raised about $20,000 for the parish, Tuohy said. But as the event grew to more than 40 vendors and a stage, so did the cost.
Last year, Tuohy said Pastor John Sanaghan didn’t want to hold the festival because the church couldn’t take a financial hit if bad weather led to a poor showing.
She arranged a partnership with Chicago Special Events Management, a company that produces festivals, arranges vendors and rents stage equipment.
SEM would absorb all of the risk if the weather ruined the weekend, but in turn, received most of the profit with a 60/40 percent split.
The church raised about $7,000.
“But by that time, it was a lot of work for only $7,000,” Tuohy said. “(SEM) did what they said they were going to do, but it’s very hard to go into a partnership when one part has already done the event for four years."
By taking this year off, Tuohy hopes to resurrect the planning committee next year and host the Christkindl Market at the church, rather than the Western Brown Line Station parking lot.
“We have a kitchen, gym and stage. If we build it up and really start making some good dollars, maybe we can move it back over to the center,” Tuohy said.
The church will still host a tree lot fundraiser for the St. Matthias Transfiguration School, at 4910 North Claremont.