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Downtown group, residents want Hallmark to make a movie in Baraboo
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Downtown group, residents want Hallmark to make a movie in Baraboo

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Shoppers and organizers of the Very Merry Holiday Fair in downtown Baraboo counted the ways their community represents the spirit of Christmas, believing their lists might someday grab the attention of the Hallmark Channel.

Carissa Kammer found a few minutes in her schedule Friday to peruse the fair goods for sale including scented candles, glass-beaded snowflake ornaments, honey jams and quilts — “I’m window shopping without windows,” she said before she exited the downtown Baraboo Arts Building.

Kammer would maybe return to the two-day fair Saturday with a better shopping plan, but, regardless of those results, she would certainly enjoy the holiday atmosphere of downtown Baraboo.

“I think we need more recognition and Hallmark could do that for us,” Kammer said of a Downtown Baraboo Inc. media campaign that’s trying to persuade the greeting card company to film one of its many original Christmas movies in the city. “We have the perfect atmosphere with the Square, its courthouse with the clock on top, the apartments that are above the businesses, the surrounding bluffs, the farms.

“Even when the city updates the downtown, they keep things classic.”

Downtown member Char terBeest Kudla of Helen’s Daughters Studio sponsored the holiday fair in its 13th year, inviting artists, artisans, authors, wine and cheesemakers to set up their tables for a weekend of holiday shopping.

“If Hallmark ever visits us, this is the weekend to come,” Kudla said of her event that also featured free Christmas cookies and greeters who smiled at everyone who entered.

Kudla emphasized Baraboo’s history including the Ringling Bros. Circus, vibrant downtown and many Christmas events as reasons Hallmark should notice of her community.

“You’re never going to be bored here because there’s something for everybody; it’s just a sweet place,” Kudla said. “We’re a magical place. We use that tagline a lot, but it’s the truth. Magic happens here.”

Upcoming Christmas events in Baraboo include horse-drawn wagon rides, visits with Santa and strolling carolers in the downtown district from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays in December and classic Christmas movies shown at the historic Al. Ringling Theater at 2 and 7 p.m. Friday.

Lacey Steffes, a Downtown Baraboo leader and owner of Spa Serenity, said the community boasts 40 independently owned specialty shops with extended hours for holiday shopping (open until 7 p.m.) beginning Tuesday and running through Dec. 24.

Steffes said the Hallmark Channel campaign is a collaborative effort of the city of Baraboo, Baraboo Area Chamber of Commerce, village of West Baraboo and Downtown Baraboo. Together they make up the Baraboo Area Branding Campaign, all contributing funds to holiday marketing efforts to benefit the city. Their efforts include local marketing — print and radio ads, social media messaging and billboards — where the message is, “Experience the Magic of Christmas in Baraboo.”

Their message, including the press releases that explain why Hallmark should make a movie here, is extended as far as Chicago, Minneapolis “and everywhere in between,” Steffes said. “We have everything they need here to make the movie without bringing anything in.”

Downtown Baraboo has so far reached out to Hallmark via social media — tagging them in various holiday posts on Facebook and Twitter — and the group hopes to soon develop a more direct relationship with the company.

Steffes estimated Hallmark Channel produces between 25 and 35 original holiday movies every year, many of them with similar plots taking place in “charming small towns” like Baraboo.

“They feature lots of beautiful decorations, friendly store-owners — I think we fit right in.”

Todd Wickus, owner of Just Imagine Toys for the past 25 years and a member of the Downtown Baraboo board, said that if Hallmark were to ever add up Barbaoo highlights, the company would see “there’s more than enough energy, downtown, for a Christmas movie.”

Wickus, too, highlighted the city’s setting, its history and regularly-held Christmas events but emphasized the people as the best reason for Hallmark to visit and stay a while.

“There’s always a friendly smile and hello,” Wickus said of the Baraboo residents including shop owners during Christmastime. “When you go to larger city or the mall, just count how many times you’ll get that same greeting (and compare it to Baraboo). Our people are a big part of this and that’s everybody, not just the people working downtown.”

Follow Noah Vernau on Twitter @NoahVernau or contact him at 608-695-4956.

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