Dotti Thompson revives Glen Arbor Holiday Marketplace

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From staff reports

The annual Glen Arbor Holiday Marketplace returns on Thanksgiving weekend with the “preview party” on Friday, Nov. 25, from 6:30-8 p.m. and the Holiday Market on Saturday, Nov. 26, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The market is known for showcasing a variety of quality, artisan-made goods. It is a popular annual event for year-round and seasonal residents, tourists, and vendors.

“The Glen Arbor Holiday Marketplace feels like a holiday themed reunion each year,” said Marissa Milliron of Pleasanton Valley Greenhouse. “As a vendor, we have been coming for so many years now that we really look forward to reconnecting with many families, friends, former school teachers, awesome small business owners as well as all the creative vendors! It’s a wonderful way to get into the holiday giving season.”

The Holiday Marketplace nearly went on hiatus this year, but local resident and business owner Dotti Thompson stepped forward to take over as event coordinator from outgoing event planner Patricia Widmayer. The Glen Lake Chamber of Commerce is pleased to be able to continue the longtime tradition of hosting this event.

Started around 1991 by Cathy Cyr of Tiny Treasures, a store that was once located in Glen Arbor’s Village Sampler, the marketplace provided a venue for the merchants in town to sell their inventory before closing for the winter. A couple years later, Cyr sought someone to chair the event and Thompson stepped in. Several merchants participated that year, but Thompson was also approached by local artisans who also wanted to participate. Over time, some merchants dropped out and more artists were added, making the event what it is today.

The Chamber later added the Tree Lighting ceremony and asked volunteers to lead in the singing of Christmas Carols. So many people attended the Tree Lighting that the Chamber decided it would be wise to open the market the evening before to let people shop early, thus the “Preview Party” was born. The first Preview Party cost $5 to enter and hors d’oeuvres were served. Today, the event is free to attend.

Of course, Santa Claus was always a part of the Marketplace. In the beginning he arrived on a fire truck and sat in the front lobby. Dotti Thompson wanted to see shoppers walk through the Market before getting to Santa, so he was moved up on the stage. Bill Lyons was Santa for many years before Fred and Bunny Lanham became the current Mr. and Mrs. Claus. These Glen Arbor icons sat on stage surrounded by lit and decorated Christmas trees. Community members donated their unused artificial trees and a fun crew of volunteers decorated them. With the continued success in attendance of the market, and so many families coming to see Santa, the Chamber decided to move Santa off-site, giving more room for the shoppers and artisans. Santa now sits in the heated, enclosed wine patio at M22 Glen Arbor on the Saturday of the Market, with photo opportunities and little gifts available to kids who visit from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Around 2003, Thompson gave up running the marketplace to spend more time with family when she and Bill closed their bed and breakfast. Fast forward to this year. She heard the Glen Lake Chamber may have to cancel the event due to the lack of volunteers able to run it and she stepped in once again to keep the event alive. The Holiday Marketplace is a festive occasion cherished by the community, visitors and merchants in town. The holiday market and Thanksgiving weekend events are good for everyone. Returning artists love being a part of this event because of the quality and variety of artists present. And shoppers love it too, for the same reasons. The event has always been a community affair.

Learn more about the Holiday Marketplace and other upcoming Glen Arbor events by visiting