Fayetteville’s “Host of Christmas Past” street festival is slated for this weekend and promises something for all ages – food, music, storytelling, appearances by Santa and Mrs. Claus and numerous other activities, including of course, holiday shopping.
“Host”, set for Nov. 8, 9 and 10, celebrates its 27th anniversary this year and will feature some new activities for festival-goers and the return of some old favorites.
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.”
Denton suggests that folks planning to attend the festival stop by the Chamber of Commerce or Main Street offices to pick up a brochure to help with planning the weekend.
“The festival is free, but certain things happen only once and some activities happen at specific times,” she said, noting the brochure includes the complete slate of activities, as well as a map of the festival area.
“We can’t say enough about our sponsors,” Denton said. “Without their support, we couldn’t do this each year. Their support is appreciated.”
All participating sponsors also have brochures on hand – just look for the “Host” logo on the door. You can also pick up brochures at the information booth located on the courthouse lawn on Saturday morning. There, you can also purchase festival merchandise, including “Host” mugs for $10 or $12 if you want it wrapped with a fresh cookie. Ornaments with the “Host” logo are available for $12. Long-sleeve festival t-shirts are $15 for youth; $20 for small to XL; and $25 for XXL and XXXL.
Visitors to the festival are reminded that only one trolley will be available this year to transport folks to and from off-site parking areas, Denton said, noting that because of the wear and tear on trolleys having to travel the interstate to get here, the company providing the trolleys will only allow one for the festival. The trolley route includes stops at Lincoln Plaza for off-site parking at Gallant-Riverview Funeral Home, the Fayetteville-Lincoln County Museum for parking at the Farmers’ Market, Lincoln County High School and the corner of Main and Market going north. The last stop to offsite parking will be at 3:45 p.m.
To allow for the safety of participants for the carriage rides and candlelight walking tour, residents are reminded that some city streets will be closed on Saturday. To accommodate traffic, the following streets will be closed from 3 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Saturday: Washington Street East (North Elk to Mulberry Avenue), Franklin (Washington to College block), Edison, East College (at Franklin) and Mulberry Avenue (to Shelbyville Highway/Highway 64 intersection).
The City of Fayetteville’s Street Department will be picking up leaves and limbs throughout this week leading up to the festival weekend. The last pickup will be Thursday, Nov. 7. Please have all leaves and limbs at the street ready for last pickup by 1 p.m. on Thursday.
Following is a list of events and activities planned for the weekend. For more details, pick up a brochure or visit www.hostofchristmaspast.com to download one.
Friday night festivities
After the tree lighting at 5 p.m. 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 at 7 p.m.
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 and a two-CD soundtrack 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 from 8 until 10 a.m. There will also be music on the bandstand. The day kicks off with the National Anthem at 8:45 a.m., sung by Jean Worley. Other performers are Simply Fabulous at 9 a.m.; A Frayed Knot Band, 10 a.m.; Backstage Performing Arts, 11 a.m.; Lance Carter, 12 p.m.; Sunny Nix, 12:30 p.m.; Jacob Painter, 1 p.m.; Madison Community Band, 2 p.m.; Wanda Tate, 3 p.m.; Dance Academy, 4 p.m.; and a final concert by AC Junction at 4:30 p.m.
Always a favorite, Jerry Mansfield will return for storytelling at the Lincoln County Courthouse at 12 p.m., and 1:30 p.m. The FLC Art Center will host Christmas crafts with kids from 12 until 4 p.m., as well as Christmas karaoke music and open mic singing from 4 until 6 p.m. “Bob’s Your Uncle” will perform from 6:30 until 8 p.m.
This year “Abraham Lincoln” returns to share stories of the life and times of Honest Abe by the man himself. You can meet Mr. Lincoln at 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday at the courthouse.
The Handbell Concert featuring the Cumberland Presbyterian Church Faith Ringers will return to the Fayetteville Municipal Building at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m.
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 from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m.
Santa’s Warrior Gift Shop, which benefits the Warrior Exhibit, a lasting tribute to Lincoln County’s veterans, will offer great cash and carry items for the Christmas season with vendor fees benefitting the Warrior Project, now located at 113 Main Avenue North. Folks looking to begin their Christmas shopping can find a number of vendors at the Santa’s Warrior Gift Shop, open this year on Saturday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Fayetteville Municipal Building. Vendors will be located both upstairs and downstairs. Visitors can access the shop via the side door and front door. The elevator is available for those unable to use stairs to reach the upper level.
Another new activity is “Teen Town”, hosted by Carriage House Players in their new building on East Market Street. There, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., 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, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., 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.
Watch out for Scrooge, who will be walking around downtown – maybe he’ll give you a penny.
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 from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., as well as horse-drawn carriage rides, also from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.
Kids’ Village has been expanded this year and will include Fayetteville Fire Department’s “Big Red Fire Truck”, where kids can climb, explore and try on gear. A fun-filled holiday photo booth, complete with props and hats, will be available from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Cheer Magic All-Stars will bring its 60-member competitive squad for a performance at 11 a.m.
The Wishing Tree will be on the courthouse lawn. There, you can write a wish for yourself or someone else on an ornament to decorate the outdoor Christmas tree.
Tours of the Fayetteville-Lincoln County Museum & Civic Center and its Winter Wonderland are again on tap from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.
St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church will provide Wayfarer’s Rest in the parish hall from 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. There will be a changing 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.
Elk Valley Crafters’ Craft Show will be held from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. at Lincoln County High School. Riverside Christian Academy, also located in the Huntsville Highway zone of the festival, will once again host a Craft Show & Business Expo from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Visit Ten Thousand Villages at First Presbyterian Church Family Life Center from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., and view the crafts of artisans from around the world.
The Cemetery Stroll at First Presbyterian Church, from 5 until 8 p.m. on Saturday evening, is always a popular event. Visitors see history come alive in Fayetteville’s first cemetery, and new characters with new stories to tell will be featured this year.
Take a candlelight walking tour down historic Mulberry Avenue where the Madison Community Band will be entertaining strollers with Christmas music from 5 until 8 p.m.
Several downtown businesses will also be open on Sunday, and a food truck rally will be held downtown from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.
Elk Valley Crafters will also have its craft show open on Sunday from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. at Lincoln County High School.