The fourth annual Winter WonderFest kicked off its 2019 holiday season with a run and walk Nov. 16. This year’s event, held at Hudson Fields off Route 1 north of Lewes, includes Schellville Christmas Village, the 1.5-mile Light Spectacular, Santa’s Workshop, carnival rides and games, entertainment, food and the VisitDelaware.com Ice Rink.
Few people realize how Schellville, the grand entrance of WonderFest, came to life. John Snow, president of Festival of Cheer, the nonprofit organization that organizes and produces Winter WonderFest, said, “After our inaugural season in 2016, our nonprofit recognized the need to expand our attractions. As we focused on tripling the size of our ice rink, adding midway attractions and doubling the size of Light Spectacular, Schell Brothers came forward with an unexpected gift to WonderFest, which dramatically changed our event.”
Schellville is a kid-sized replica of a New England town during the holidays. The interactive village provides guests the opportunity to tour a Victorian-style home, town hall, diner, fire department and 13 other buildings. Wrapped around the VisitDelaware.com Ice Rink, the village the new Schellville Express train ride.
Chris Schell, CEO of Schell Brothers, explains, “As anyone at Schell Brothers will tell you, I’m a huge fan of Christmas. I’ve always thought it would be really cool to create a kid-size Christmas Village. When we were approached to help out with Winter WonderFest, I knew this was the perfect venue for our Christmas Village. The marketing and construction teams at Schell ran with the idea and created something so much better than I could have imagined. It’s truly magical.”
Winter WonderFest does not have to spend money on the installation, maintenance, removal or expansion of Schellville. Additionally, Schell Brothers does not receive any portion of proceeds, Snow said.
Peter Briccotto, WonderFest event director, said, “The beauty of Schellville is unparalleled, and the generosity behind this installation is more impressive. Not only did they create Schellville, they provide dozen of volunteers and a generous donation to support our additional attractions.”
Festival of Cheer depends on donations and in-kind services of over 70 additional sponsors to create the festival. Schell Brother’s contribution covers 5 percent of the event’s nearly $600,000 operational budget.
“I have always been amazed at what the Schell Brothers team creates for Schellville; however, I am more inspired this year by how many companies from across the region rallied to support WonderFest. Schellville is only one piece of the puzzle that makes this event remarkable. We may provide an attraction which is an actual village, but it takes an even bigger village to make WonderFEST a success,” said board member Lori Schell.
Snow said organizers are grateful to the Schellville team, including Alyssa Titus, Andy Buehler and James Heffington, and all of their staff and vendors who created the exhibit.
Admission for Schellville is free with the purchase of a Light Spectacular vehicle pass. Without the pass, a $5 parking donation will be collected at the Christmas Village gate to support festival operations.
For a schedule, to purchase tickets or volunteer, go to www.wonderfestde.org.