By Russ Lay | Outer Banks Voice on November 22, 2020
“If necessity is the mother of invention then it is the mother of innovation as well…” Kip Tabb wrote in an Outer Banks Voice story back in July. Tabb was chronicling the migration of Ami Hill’s popular Muse Originals OBX gallery from a storefront to a mobile operation housed in a repurposed school bus.
At Muse Originals OBX/Bus 252, the innovation continues. And nothing has challenged the local business community to innovate and adapt more than the 2020 COVID pandemic that continues to grip the world.
The fruits of that innovation will soon make themselves known as the “WAcky Whimsical Winterland” transforms to the outside seating area at Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint in Kill Devil Hills in December along with a special November event in Colington Harbor.
The idea started with local artist Buffy Turner, who lives a few doors down from Jack Brown’s. Turner noted that, “as artists we haven’t had anything going on to show and sell our art since COVID.” She contemplated having her own yard sale and then asked one of the managers at Jack Brown’s if they’d like to be included as part of a larger art lawn sale.
Turner then found Ami Hill on Facebook and together with Jack Brown’s, the WAcky Whimsical Winterland began to take shape. Hill was able to bring the artisans Muse Originals showcases and a full-fledged marketplace was born. Jack Brown’s added the venue, food and drink, decorations and other amenities and the fruits of their collaboration will debut in December.
Brent Hill explained that the idea “is to begin a tradition that replicate the Christmas markets that happen in Europe, where patrons stroll through an outdoor market, hot beverage in hand” enjoying the scenes and vendor offerings. For Jack Brown’s, this was “an easy yes,” according to Hill. “If the community can use us as a vehicle to for good things and we’ve got the space to help, it’s what we want to do.” Hill added.
The bus will be parked outside the fenced-in backyard area with art displayed inside and outside of the vehicle. Within the backyard, the organizers will transform the site into a festive holiday market, complete with lights, decorations, vendor kiosks, a Christmas tree and Santa Claus for the kids.
Masks, social distancing and capacity limits will be strictly enforced to ensure safety and compliance with pandemic related guidelines. Even Santa Claus will be socially distanced to protect the children and Santa.
Ami Hill and Turner promise something for everyone, with offerings ranging from botanicals, holiday ornaments, candlesticks and wall art.
A scaled down event debuts in Colington Harbor on Nov. 27 and 28, with the market open from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Friday and noon to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday. Santa will be present from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Friday.
In December the full-fledged event moves to Jack Brown’s for three consecutive weekends (Saturday’s and Sunday’s). Saturday hours will run 2:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m., while Sunday’s will see the market open from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Santa will be present all days from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.
Approximately 14 vendors will be on hand each day. They include familiar names such as Milk Street Soap, Outer Banks Botanicals, DiSabella Designs as well as smaller, lesser-known artisans that are the primary focus of Muse Originals/Bus 252’s gallery.
All three organizers emphasize the goal is to showcase local art and support the art community. Turner hopes the event will help “change the art culture locally as artists and artisans get out in the open more and explore new ways to reach the public and showcase their talents.”
The WAcky Winter Wonderland kicks off on Dec. 5 and 6 with the Outer Banks SPCA as the featured charity. On Dec. 12 and 13 the SPCA will be once again featured on Friday, with the Outer Banks Hotline Bazaar appearing on Saturday. The final weekend, Dec. 19 and 20, will showcase the Surfrider Foundation.
“Putting the Unity back into Community” is how Hill and Turner describe the goal of the marketplace. It has all the makings of a new Outer Banks tradition and the fact the idea was born in the midst of a pandemic will likely be remembered as one silver-lined cloud that emerged from an otherwise unsettled and chaotic year.