Month packed with holiday eventsDec 1, 2017 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer
With Thanksgiving now a memory, Fremont County residents are ready to get into the wintry holiday spirit, with plenty of festivals and shopping opportunities already available during the first weekend of December.
Some organizers couldn't even wait for November to pass - the Festival of Trees Family Fun Night was held Nov. 30, with the more adult-oriented gala 5:30-9:30 p.m. Friday at the Fremont County Fairgrounds Fremont Hall.
To celebrate this year's "Neverland" theme, family night featured a Captain Hook ship for children to climb in and play on.
"It's really a big toy for kids," Community Entry Services CEO Shawn Griffin said. "It's really kind of cool. ... That's kind of the highlight this year."
Local artist Jon Cox painted Peter Pan-themed pictures by hand on the ship, which will be auctioned off Friday evening during the gala.
Seventeen decorated trees and five wreaths also will be available at the auction, including a "Shop Local Tree" that is adorned with $3,400 in merchandise and certificates donated by local merchants. The Wind River Job Corps Center created a "Horseshoe Tree" as well, and there is a "Night at the Movies Tree" decked with DVDs and movie passes.
The evening includes a live and silent auction as well as a prime rib and brisket dinner and entertainment. VIP admission is at 5:30 p.m. followed by general admission at 6 p.m. Corporate tables cost $600, individual tickets are $50, and couples tickets are $75. For more information call 856-55767.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 430 Elizabeth Drive in Riverton, also got started early this year with the Fremont County Nativity Celebration, which opened to the public Thursday and will be available 5-9 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday. The community event involves nativities, activities for children, musical performances, artwork displays and opportunities for family photos.
Another event Friday is the Dubois High Country Christmas Extravaganza 4-7 p.m. at the Headwaters Arts and Conference Center, 20 Stalnaker St. Entries in the local tree and gingerbread house decorating contests will be auctioned off while vendors sell their wares. Attendees can enjoy holiday carols from various choral groups while eating chili as part of a fundraiser. Santa will be there, too. For more information call 455-2687.
The festivities continue Saturday in Dubois with the annual lighting-up ceremony at 5:30 p.m. at the corner of Ramshorn and South First street downtown, where trees will be hung with holiday lights. Local businesses will have hung lights as part of their seasonal decorations as well, and everything will be illuminated at the same time Saturday. After the lights turn on, attendees can vote for their favorite display while drinking hot chocolate and cider, eating cookies and listening to carols.
Also in Dubois, the annual Spirit of Christmas event will begin at 7 p.m. Saturday back at the Headwaters. Local band Packin' the Mail will play western dancing music while children talk to Mr. and Mrs. Claus. Desserts will be served at intermission, when the winners of a gift basket raffle will be announced. Organizers said the gift baskets include more than $500 in items donated by Dubois-area businesses. Proceeds from the raffle go to the Friends of the Library and Friends of the Dubois Museum.
Tickets to the event can be purchased at the door, and extra donations are always appreciated. For more information call 455-2284.
Back in Riverton, the Knights of Columbus group is hosting a free Christmas Craft Fair 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at St. Margaret's gym, 622 E. Park Ave. Children can take pictures with Santa while adults enjoy coffee free of charge. The fair also features artists from western Wyoming and concessions like chili, with cheese and chips.
On the other side of town, Central Wyoming College will host a fundraiser for equine students beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday at the equine center at the corner of North Eighth Street West and Gasser Road. Attendees pay $5 for hot chocolate and chili, plus $3 for children and $5 for adults to enjoy horse-drawn wagon rides with Santa 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Chili-eaters will have the opportunity to vote for the winner of a chili cook-off by placing money in a jar by their favorite dish. The chili that has earned the most money by the time results are announced at 1:30 p.m. wins the competition and prizes.
Cooks should have their entries in place by 10:30 a.m., complete with information about the name of the chili, the type of meat included and the level of spiciness.
All proceeds from the event help equine students attend the annual International Certified Horsemanship Association conference. For more information call 855-2302.
In Lander, there will be a free craft fair and vendor expo 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Inn at Lander, 260 Grandview Drive. Organizer Amy Federer said more than 40 booths will feature crafts and local businesses with items for sale.
"There is a little bit of everything - that's what I love about these shows," she said. "(We're) giving these people a chance to be able to showcase their stuff and make a little income."
For children, there will be games and free ornaments to decorate, and Santa will be taking gift requests and handing out candy canes. There also will be food. Federer said there always is a donation table by the free drinks, but this year she has expanded the opportunities to gives back to the community by incorporating a food drive, coat drive and toy drive as part of the event.
After the expo, Light Up Lander begins at 3 p.m. on 7th Street by Mr. D's grocery store. The event features a food drive, games, carnival rides, food, cocoa, cookies and a visit from Santa.
Anyone who brings a canned food item to donate gets a ticket to win one of nine bicycles from local businesses. Mr. D's owner Michelle Motherway said entries are limited to 10 tickets per person, and contestants must be present to win a bike.
Other giveaways feature motel stays, pizza coupons and more, she added.
Motherway hopes to collect three pallets of food that will go to the Community Christmas Basket program and the Care and Share Food Bank.
The Lander Light Parade begins at 6 p.m. at 8th Street. Motherway said businesses on Main Street turn off their holiday lights in order to showcase the lighted floats.
"All the parade floats have holiday lights on them - it's super cool," Motherway said, tallying more than 40 floats signed up this year from all over the county.
Santa takes up the rear in the procession, and as he enters each block he uses his magic to reignite the holiday lights at the businesses lining the street.
The parade ends at Centennial Park, where Santa lights the Lander Christmas tree to the sound of carolers and fireworks. Motherway said more than 40 vendors will be stationed at the park along with food trucks that will provide meals for shoppers throughout the evening.
"It's just a great event for everybody in Fremont County," she said, noting that the temperatures shouldn't be too low on Saturday. "It's a kickoff to the holiday season."
For more information call 332-2964.
Another craft fair features local art and craftsmanship 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Lander Community and Conference Center, 950 Buena Vista Drive. Lander Art in the Afternoon also includes music, food and a raffle, all for a $2 entry fee that supports education programming at the Lander Arts Center
Lander Arts Center director Stacy Stebner said more than 40 artists will be stationed at booths selling their work, while the Lander Valley High School art club will sell handmade bowls filled with soup.
"It's an incredible opportunity to do holiday shopping," Stebner said. "Everything is handmade, and it's all local to the state."
Each artist donates work to be raffled off at 2 p.m. For more information call 332-5772.
Finally, the Dubois Museum will host Jammin at the Museum at 2 p.m. Dec. 3. Entry is free for anyone to play, sing or listen to the music at 909 W. Ramshorn St. For more information call 455-2284.