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With the start of a new tradition, the first annual Downtown Madison Wassail Fest will be held on Dec. 2. CONTRIBUTED

Downtown Madison Wassail Fest debuts after Christmas tree lighting

MADISON – A new tradition for the city will debut with the first annual Downtown Madison Wassail Fest on Dec. 2.

Merchants of Downtown Madison have been working with Madison Station Historical Preservation Society to sponsor the event. Wassail Fest will start at 6 p.m., immediately following the tree lighting for Madison Station Polar Express Christmas on Main. All festivities are free to the public.

The historical society has designated the center of activities at Main and Church streets following the tree lighting, Tammy Hall said. Hall owns Main Street Cafe.

Store and business owners will open their doors to serve samples of wassail, which consists of spiced cider that is served hot. Visitors can vote for the wassail that they consider has the best taste as merchants vie for bragging rights for the best tasting recipe in town. The winner for the best wassail recipe will be announced by Dec. 6.

Lucky visitors will have a chance at winning door prizes.

“Come out to sample, shop and be festive! We hope to provide Madison and surrounding areas with a festive evening to kick off the holiday season,” Hall said.

Participating businesses for the Wassail Fest are Old Black Bear, Noble Passage Interiors, Balch Realty, Main Street Cafe, Lemon & Lavender, Filthy Gorgeous, South & Pine, Madison Station Antiques, The House of Pilates, Hook and Frog and Pure Barre.

Hall is spearheading the Wassail Fest. She formerly lived in Columbus, Miss., which had a successful wassail tasting. “We modeled our Wassail Fest off how they do it in Columbus. The fest brings a lot of traffic to downtown. If they can do it, then why can’t we?” Hall said.

“Everyone (downtown merchants) participating is super thrilled for the activity in downtown,” Hall said.

Hall said Main Street Cafe will be open on Dec. 2 with an abbreviated menu. For a light supper, she plans to serve finger foods and light appetizers.

Madison’s downtown merchants will donate half of their sales during Wassail Fest to the charity, Generosity Fund.

“We want to continue having Wassail Fest every year,” Hall said.

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