With Fayetteville’s “Host of Christmas Past” street festival just weeks away, organizers have announced details for planned events and activities, including some new things on tap and the return of some old favorites.
“Host” celebrates its 27th anniversary this year with the festival slated for Nov. 8, 9 and 10. Weekend events kick off on Friday, Nov. 8, at 5 p.m. with the lighting of the Elgan Brooks Memorial Tree. This year, the tree will be lit in memory of Myra Askins, long-time owner of the Flower House, whose open houses nearly 60 years ago were the inspiration for the annual Christmas festival.
“Flower House started the tradition of having an open house and that grew into the festival,” said Carolyn Denton, executive director of the Fayetteville-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau and a member of the Host organizing committee. “We think it’s very fitting to honor Myra this year with the tree lighting on Friday.”
Friday night festivities
After the tree lighting officially opens the festival, there will be caroling by the Lincoln County High School chorus.
“It’s a great time to start your Christmas shopping,” Denton said.
Carriage House Players will present “Much Ado About Nothing” at the Lincoln County Museum on Friday at 7 p.m. Another performance will be held Saturday evening.
Ivy Wreath will host the artist JOANNA, who will be signing handmade ornaments on Friday night and again on Saturday.
Friday evening’s lineup includes a free screening of the movie, “The Least of These: A Christmas Story”, a holiday movie filmed in Fayetteville in 2016. Showings are set for Friday at 5:30 p.m. at the Fayetteville Municipal Building, as well as Saturday at 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m., and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. DVDs will be available for purchase, as well.
Saturday morning’s festivities will kick off with the Reindeer Pancake Breakfast, a benefit for the Crossroads Pregnancy Center, at First Baptist Church’s The Hub. There will also be music on the bandstand.
Always a favorite, Jerry Mansfield will return for storytelling at the Lincoln County Courthouse. The FLC Art Center will host Christmas crafts with kids, as well as Christmas karaoke music and open mic singing. “Bob’s Your Uncle” will perform.
The Handbell Concert featuring the Cumberland Presbyterian Church Faith Ringers will return to the Fayetteville Municipal Building.
A new event this year is the addition of a “soul food” offering at St. Paul A.M.E. Church, which will be selling plates of soul fare.
Another new activity is “Teen Town”, hosted by Carriage House Players in their new building on East Market Street. There, kids 12 and up can participate in a number of activities geared toward their age group, including a rock climbing wall, corn hole, Elf Bingo and photo booths. “Teen Town” will also provide a charging station for devices.
High Tea returns to First Baptist Church’s Life Center for one seating at 12 p.m. noon on Saturday. Advance tickets are required and can be obtained by calling the Fayetteville Main Street office at 433-7006.
Another new activity for the little ones is a candy cane hunt on the courthouse lawn at 1 p.m. Kids ages 10 and under can participate in this free event with stockings provided to the first 50 kids. Little ones can search the courthouse lawn to see how many candy canes they can find.
Photos with Santa will be in a new location this year, the Victorian house beside Bank of Lincoln County’s main branch. Professional photo packages will be available, and kids can visit with Santa to share their wish lists.
Junior’s House will be back with their inflatables and face painting in Kids’ Village, and the Humane Society will once again be running its cow train for kids to ride, as well as carriage rides.
Tours of the Fayetteville-Lincoln County Museum & Civic Center and its Winter Wonderland are again on tap, as well as the Elk Valley Crafters Annual Show at Lincoln County High School.
St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church will provide Wayfarer’s Rest in the parish hall. There will be a charging station and private nursing room. Back by popular demand, St. Mary’s baklava and bake sale will once again draw a crowd.
The Fayetteville-Lincoln County Public Library will again present the Polar Express Adventure and letter writing to Santa. With her husband busy visiting with kids across town, Mrs. Claus will be on hand to accept letters for Santa at 11 a.m.
Visit Ten Thousand Villages at First Presbyterian Church Family Life Center and view the crafts of artisans from around the world.
Take a candlelight walking tour down historic Mulberry Avenue where the Madison Community Band will be entertaining strollers with Christmas music.
Official Host of Christmas Past merchandise will be on sale at the information booth and includes long-sleeve t-shirts, mugs and a new offering, festival Christmas ornaments. The booth will once again be located on the east side of the courthouse lawn.
Festival organizers plan to have more activities on Sunday than in years’ past.
“We hope to bring more people back who are still here visiting on Sunday, as well as folks coming by from church,” Denton said.
Several downtown businesses will also be open on Sunday.
“We’re encouraging food vendors to return on Sunday for a food truck rally from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. We’re hoping folks will come down after church to eat and shop around,” said Denton.
Organizers are also encouraging local church choirs to perform on the bandstand on Sunday.
“If church choirs would like to sing carols that afternoon, we would love to have music on the bandstand to keep the Christmas spirit going,” Denton said.
If your choir is interested in performing, contact the Chamber of Commerce at 433-1234 or Fayetteville Main Street at 433-7006.
Elk Valley Crafters will also have its craft show open on Sunday afternoon.
Alpha Kappa Club, which has annually held its Home Tour on Sunday, has opted to instead host “Boots & BBQ” as its fundraiser on Oct. 26 instead of the Home Tour on Host weekend.
“There are still some spaces available for vendors,” Denton said of the street festival. “Of course, electric is limited so those are on a first-come, first-serve basis.”
You can contact the Chamber of Main Street for more details.
“We can’t say enough about our sponsors,” Denton said. “Without their support, we couldn’t do this each year. Their support is appreciated.”
For more information about the street festival and additional activities, visit www.hostofchristmaspast.com.