The birth of Jesus Christ will be the centerpiece of activities this weekend during a three-day Festival of Nativities.
An estimated 350 nativity sets are scheduled to be on hand to complement live music, poinsettias, and Christmas cheer this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“Some people say this has become part of their Christmas tradition,” said Miriam Crawford, one of the organizers. “They bring their kids and their grandkids and have a wonderful time. This is a community event intended to remind ourselves and others of the reason for the Christmas season.”
Festival of Nativities, set for its fourth year, has a new location off the bypass at 562 Shangri La Lane at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Assembly Hall. Admission is free and the event is open to everyone.
“We have some very expensive, one-of-a-kind nativities,” said Crawford. “We don’t leave them here unattended. We’ll have people sleeping here overnight.”
There is expected to be nativities from some 20 countries. Crawford says this helps to provide a broad view because “every artist has their own mental image of that scene, recreated through their own individual style.”
While the nativities in the main auditorium are not for touch, there is a children’s room that will feature durable figurines that are appropriate for play. Each visitor will also be treated to a cookie from the hospitality room.
The entertainment schedule has been set. All three days will include a re-enactment of the World War I truce which occurred around Christmas 1914. During this time, French, British and German soldiers took part in unofficial ceasefires where they crossed trenches and exchanged seasonal greetings. It’s seen as a moment of peace and humanity amid the extreme violence of war.
Also on the entertainment schedule are the WCHS choir and the story of World War II candy bomber Gail Halvorsen, an Air Force pilot famed from dropping candy to children.
Other performers are the Agee Family of Pikeville and Nashville recording artists Derek Hinkley and Bryli Evans.
Hours are Friday from 5 to 8 p.m., Saturday from 3 to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m.
Anyone who has a nativity they would like to share can drop it off Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.