OKEECHOBEE — No matter what the temperature is in Okeechobee on Dec. 7, you can plan on seeing snow at the Christmas Market on Brady Ranch. It snowed last year, and it will snow again this year, said Celeste Harvey, the woman who, along with her cousin, Jennifer Ceballos, created the market. “We have kids. We are moms, and we know how hard it is to get anything done. We wanted to give the kids something fun to do while the parents shopped,” she said. They designed the layout of the market so that it is shaped like a triangle, and all traffic has to go a certain way. There is one way in and one way out. When you make your loop, you will pass every vendor they have. The children’s activities are in the center where the parents can keep an eye on them. They are working on having a live Nativity scene this year. They will have a petting zoo and a corn pit. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be there and will be ready to have pictures taken with the kids. “Bring the kids. Let them play while you shop,” she said.
Mrs. Harvey’s mother-in-law is Marilyn Brady, and she owns the Brady Ranch, which is just over the Okeechobee County line and into Indiantown, right off State Road 710. Her father-in-law, Frank Brady, passed away in April, but her mother-in-law still lives there. They plan to honor Mr. Brady this year at the Christmas Market. He is greatly missed, she said.
Her mother-in-law lives out at the ranch, and they have a hunting lodge out there. On the property is a clubhouse where they used to do pigeon shoots and things like that. The building had not been used in quite a while, though, because Mr. Brady battled leukemia for three years, she said.
Last year, she and Ms. Ceballos came up with the idea to have a market in and around the clubhouse. It was 31 days before Christmas, she said, when they presented the idea to Mr. Brady. He told them they could as long as they took care of it like it was their own. He just said he didn’t want to be stressed with it, but otherwise they could do their thing.
In 31 days, they put it together and had 53 vendors and over 500 people attended. They don’t charge an admission. Last year, they chose a charity which was the First Baptist Church Big Lake Mission House, and they asked everyone to bring one can of food instead of an entry fee. She said they had a mountain of food. They were shocked, because they had no idea what to expect. They had a truckload, she said. Their charity this year is The Trail of Hope Animal Rescue, and they will be giving the canned goods to them.
The reason they did the market is because it is local vendors and those from surrounding counties, home-based businesses, local businesses, people that make things, honey, bath bombs. Shopping local is very important to them. Both women are Hawks and their family owns the Okeechobee Feed store. Ms. Harvey owns Lollie’s Hamper. They thought it would be great to bring all the local people to one location and make it a family event, and get people to support local when they are shopping for the holidays.
Right now, they have 38 paid vendors, but they will take vendors up until the day of the event, she said. They charge vendors $75, but she said the money is used to help with the cost of stadium lighting, power for the vendors and hired help who assist them with the event.
The Christmas Market is on Saturday, Dec, 7 from 3 p.m. until 8 p.m. That way people who don’t like to drive at night can come out and enjoy it, but those who do like the night time lights and shopping can have that, too, she said.