Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science seniors Kameron Shook, of Ridgeland, left, Dajah Carter, of Jackson, and Brenna Paola, of Ovett, drink wassail and rate their favorites during Wassail Fest in downtown Columbus in this 2015 Dispatch file photo. Photo by: Dispatch file photo
December 1, 2018 10:04:07 PM
Downtown Columbus will all but jingle with holiday spirit when the 15th annual Wassail Fest gets underway at 5 p.m. Friday. Participating downtown merchants will compete for wassail meister bragging rights by preparing their own recipes of the spiced beverage that dates back to the time of Robin Hood and his merry men.
The annual festivity selected as a Top 20 Event by the Southeast Tourism Society for three consecutive years attracts crowds to the downtown district to sample wassails and vote for a favorite, and to enjoy carolers on the sidewalks, in-store promotions, door prizes and other activities from 5-8 p.m.
"Many of our merchants will go to great lengths to prepare their special wassail to serve their guests," said Main Street Columbus Executive Director Barbara Bigelow. "It is a great time to come downtown, do some Christmas shopping, sample delicious wassail, be part of selecting the 2018 Wassail Meister, dine in one of our great downtown restaurants and just enjoy the season in beautiful, historic Columbus."
Coffee House on 5th is one of the many businesses prepping for Friday's fest.
"We try to plan for enough for about 2,000 people to taste," said barista Josiah Andrews, adding that this will be his third or fourth year to personally participate.
Mira Mira Boutique proprietors Margaret Ann Borland and Tami McBryde experienced their first Wassail Fest last December. They had only been in business a month and were happily overwhelmed at the number of people the event attracted, said McBryde. The shop's cranberry-based wassail garnered second place.
"Wassail Fest is fun, families, laughter and just people excited, getting into the Christmas spirit," remarked Borland. "Anything that happens at night (downtown) is always a plus, and we've decided we want to be open on Thursdays in December until at least 7 p.m."
Coffee House's Andrews added, "At Wassail Fest, everybody's down here for one purpose, Christmas music is playing and everything is decorated. It feels like a Hallmark movie downtown."
Mississippi University for Women returns as an event partner Friday and will provide wassail at its CHEW food truck downtown, although they will not be judged in the competition.
Music adding to the joyous atmosphere will come from the New Hope Take One and Encore Show Choir performing at Leadership Plaza at the corner of Fifth Street South and College Street throughout the evening. The Harmony GRITS quartet -- Girls Ringing in the Sound -- will also carol on the sidewalks.
Main Street Columbus expressed appreciation to Wassail Fest sponsors: The W, DEX Imaging, Brislin Inc., Zachary's and the City of Columbus.
This year's Wassail Meister winner will be announced Dec. 14.
Bigelow said, "Come join Main Street Columbus, downtown merchants, The W and the Wassail Fest sponsors for this festive evening and make a memory not to be forgotten."
For more information, contact Main Street Columbus, 662-328-6305.
IF YOU GO:
WHO: Main Street Columbus, downtown merchants
WHAT: Wassail Fest (free)
WHEN: Friday, Dec. 7; 5-8 p.m.
WHERE: Downtown Columbus
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.