Cave Spring kicked off the holiday season this weekend with its Christmas Open House on the square, heralding more events to come.
“You really want to be here for Christmas in the Country, the first weekend in December,” said Glenda Wheeler, who was browsing the shops Sunday with her cousin Dennis Pledger.
The 14th annual arts-and-crafts festival is set for Dec. 2 and 3, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., in Rolater Park. Pledger said more than 150 vendors turned out last year with items ranging from home-made fudge, soaps and local honey to stained glass, jewelry, furniture and pottery.
Santa will be greeting visitors in the town’s iconic cave.
“And the Christmas Parade is so cute,” Wheeler added.
The parade, at 6 p.m. Dec. 9, runs along Alabama Street to City Hall. Participants, including Santa Claus, start lining up at 5 p.m. on Perry Farm Road.
While the special events draw thousands, the Christmas Open House offered a more laid-back experience in the historic downtown district.
Shoppers strolled around the square while “We Need A Little Christmas,” “Frosty the Snowman” and other holiday tunes filled the nippy air from a speaker in the gazebo.
Sherry and Jerome White came from Rome for lunch at Linde Marie’s Steakhouse, then browsed for bargains — picking up a vintage Santa doll for $10. Ricky Conaway and his granddaughter Emilee Simons chose Southern Flavor for their meal.
“We live here and we love it,” Conaway proclaimed.
There were tourists in town as well. Tom Bryant and James Lester said they took a drive over from Gainesville with their wives, who had always wanted to see Cave Spring.
“We were going leaf-watching, but we hadn’t seen any leaves and we’ve never been here before,” Lester said.
Steve and Cynthia Reynolds made the trip down from Armuchee for some holiday shopping. While it’s nearly a 40-minute trip, the couple said they make a point to come often.
“It’s so homey here and the people are so nice,” Cynthia Reynolds said. “They treat you like family.”