The festival, held on the second weekend in November each year, sees Fayetteville become the sitting for a magical holiday experience, with an array of food, exhibits, shops, candlelight and Christmas spirit, as the entire community rolls out its collective welcome mat.
A brochure featuring all the events and activities included in this year’s “Host” is available from the Fayetteville/Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce and Fayetteville Main Street as well as at numerous local merchants. It is also available online at hostofchristmaspast.com.
“This event is for people of all ages,” said Barbara Wright, a member of the festival committee, recalling how “Host” got its start.
In 1991, a committee, consisting of Alice Barrett, Bill Summerville, Tom Redden, Peggy Fitzpatrick and Marie Caldwell met and began brainstorming about a festival to promote Fayetteville/Lincoln County and the downtown area. A Christmas-themed festival was decided upon.
In keeping with the annual Christmas Open House tradition begun by The Flower House 25 years earlier, the date of the second weekend in November was set. Since then, other florists, businesses and organizations have participated, making this truly a community event.
Credit goes to Peggy Fitzpatrick for naming the festival and to Cindy Stefko for designing the nutcracker logo still used today.
The festival will get underway Friday, Nov. 9, with the lighting of the Elgan Brooks Memorial Christmas Tree on the courthouse lawn at 5 p.m. This year’s tree lighting is in memory of the late Fredna Smith for her years of service to the “Host of Christmas Past.” There will also be caroling by the Rock Family Worship Center.
Winter Wonderland will also be open for tours at The Fayetteville/Lincoln County Museum from 5-8 p.m. Admission is $1. Wonderland will also be open Saturday beginning at 10 a.m.
And “Christmas Belles” will be presented by Carriage House Players at the Museum and Civic Center in a performance beginning at 7 p.m. Ticket information is available at www.carriagehouse players.com.
The festival swings into a full array of activity on Saturday, Nov. 10. The first of those will be the Kiwanis Reindeer Run, which will begin from the Fayetteville Public Utilities’ warehouse. Registration begins at 7 a.m., with the race starting at 8 a.m.
A day of musical performances is planned beginning at 8:45 a.m. at the bandstand on the courthouse lawn, with Dean Bevels serving as master of ceremonies. Performers include Mike and Holly Hines, Cumberland Presbyterian Children’s Choir, Simply Fabulous, Sunny Langford, Stillwater, Backstage Performing Arts, Niki Tucker, Jacob Painter, The Worley Family, Madison Community Band, Lorie and Becca’s Dance Studio, the Bill Williams Family, and the Dan Terry Band.
Four on the Floor will wrap up the evening with a street dance from 7-10 p.m. on the southwest corner of the square.
Elk Valley Crafters’ annual show will be presented throughout the day at Lincoln County High School.
Santa will be available for photos at the Main Street office from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., and snow will be falling on the grassing lot beside Bank of Lincoln County, where a Kidz Zone Fun Bounce will also be available. Snowbird of Channel 4 News out of Nashville will be at Kidz Zone at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Santa’s reindeer will also be available for photos on the parking lot of The Exchange. And just down the street Winter Wonderland and tours will continue at the Museum, and pony rides will be available at Farmers Market.
The Elves Workshop, with crafts, cupcakes, cookies and Christmas songs, will be presented upstairs at the Fayetteville Municipal Building by the Imagination Library. Workshops are set for 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 and 2:30 p.m., and the cost is $10.
Cow trains and horse-drawn carriages will be available at Regions Bank, and Ten Thousand Villages will be at First Presbyterian Church’s Family Life Center.
Numerous other activities are planned, from meeting Mr. Abraham Lincoln, storytelling with Jerry Mansfield, Christmas movies at the Lincoln Twin, a ventriloquist, various workshops on cooking and decorating, to a hand bell concert, arts and crafts shows, sewing demonstrations, and baked good sales.
Throughout the day be on the lookout for Mother Goose, town criers, and Scrooge. Even Snow Bird will be present during a portion of the festival.
The Mid-State Cloggers and Flat Creek Dancers will be performing at the First Presbyterian Church, which will also be hosting evening concerts with the Coleman March Ensemble and Maple Hill Celtic Band.
Candlelight walking tours and cemetery strolls will also be held during the evening. A Saturday evening performance of “Christmas Belles” is planned at the Museum as well.
Some events can only be attended with tickets purchased in advanced or reservations. Among those are the High Tea: Lace, Linens and Luxury, and Painting at the Art Teachers’ Studio, so check information about those events out in the brochure.
On Sunday, Nov. 11, the Alpha Kappa Home Tours will feature five beautiful homes.
The Elk Valley Crafters’ Show will continue at LCHS, as will Winter Wonderland at the Museum. And Carriage House Players will present a matinee performance of “Christmas Belles”.
“This festival has the undisputed reputation of being Fayetteville’s number one event and rightfully so,” said Mrs. Wright. “If you have any questions, please call the Chamber of Commerce at (931) 433-1234 or Fayetteville Main Street (931) 433-7006.”