(Sarah Mueller, WJON)

ST. CLOUD-- The city of St. Cloud went back to its German roots on Thursday night. The 6th annual Weihnachtsmarkt, or Christmas Market, was held outside the River’s Edge Convention Center.

The event kicked off with carols by the St. John’s Boy’s Choir and a Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

A warming tent hosted vendors selling handmade crafts as well as authentic German-Austrian food and drinks.

One of the vendors, Heinrich, made Gluhwein: a hot, spiced, red wine traditionally served in the winter around Christmas time. He was born and raised in Austria and says the event reminds him of his former home.

Opa is a grandfather, like me. He makes good European, Austrian, German pastries. Lebkuchen, Linzer Auge...and I looked at his stand and I said wow! It's homesick, almost, almost homesick.

Heinrich owned a German-Austrian restaurant downtown before his retirement. He says the market is very similar to the ones he grew up going to.

Every town basically has a Christmas market. It's not in a tent, but it's a little stand and whatever they make, they sell during Christmas. Vienna has a very big Christmas market every year.

The three-day holiday festival continues on Friday with carnival rides and a sled dog musher in the Lady Slipper Parking Lot and a community concert at the convention center.