Holiday events in Bennington County kick-off on Saturday
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | November 23,2012
BENNINGTON — Bennington County will be kicking off the holiday season on Saturday with a first-time event in Bennington’s downtown, the return of a traditional event at the Bennington Museum and a tree-lighting in Manchester.
Bennington’s “Our Hometown Holiday” downtown event, a promotion which encourages people to consider supporting local retailers, will be part of “Small Business Saturday” for the first time this year.
John Shannahan, executive director of the Better Bennington Corp., said Saturday would be a day when all the holiday lights are turned on downtown and Santa and Mrs. Claus pays a visit courtesy of the Bennington Fire Department, whose members will drop him off at the organization’s office and welcome center on South Street.
Shannahan said this will be the first year Santa’s visit is at the BBC’s office and said the advantage was that while Santa is there, from 10 a.m. to noon, visitors can stand inside and keep warm. The National Weather Service is predicting a 30 percent chance of rain or snow on Saturday and a high temperature of 38 degrees.
From there, Santa will be taken to the Bennington Museum for the kickoff of the 16th annual Festival of Trees with Family Day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission to the museum is $1 on Saturday and any child who brings a nonperishable item for the “Tree of Thanks,” to be donated to the Greater Bennington Interfaith Community’s Kitchen Cupboard, is admitted free.
Some activities require an additional fee of up to $3 but many are free.
Children, ages 4 to 12, can shop for presents at the museum, with helpers assisting them in picking out items that cost between $1 and $7. The children can also wrap and tag the items at the museum.
Students from more than 40 classrooms in Bennington, Shaftsbury, Woodford, North Bennington and Pownal have decorated miniature trees that will be on display at the “Children’s Forest” in the Grandma Moses Schoolhouse. Visitors can buy a $1 ticket to win one of the trees.
Curator Jamie Franklin said on Wednesday this year’s festival, which runs through Dec. 30, has the theme, “Around the World.” More than 20 trees will be display, among them, a tree with a vignette based on Japanese culture.
“Other people have used the tree and put on various ornaments that reflect traditions around the world. Nova Mae Cafe (a Main Street business) did kind of a quirky take on it with witches around the world. It’s a Halloween-themed Christmas tree so there’s a wide variety of vignettes,” Franklin said.
The museum’s annual gala, its most important fundraiser will be at 7 p.m. on Dec. 8 and a holiday dance party, “Afterglow, will be at 8 p.m. on Dec. 21.
In Manchester, the tree lighting will be at 4 p.m. Saturday at the town green. Santa will be arriving by fire truck at that event as well.
At the Hometown Holiday, the Bennington County Choral Society, The Chamber Singers, and the Brass and Woodwind Players will be caroling in shops and restaurants along Main Street beginning at 11 a.m. There will be three drawings for downtown shopping sprees, at noon at Panache; at 1 p.m., at Evans’ News; and at 2 p.m. at Jay’s Art Shop and Frame Gallery. Winners must be present in order to claim the prize.