The annual Ste. Genevieve Christmas Festival will be begin Friday, with plenty of holiday activities continuing through the weekend all around town.

Event Organizer Annette Rolfe said she designed the festival in the late 90s to showcase the history of Ste. Genevieve and western culture at large through music.

“To create this event, I wanted to put this music festival together because I knew it would keep the people in town,” she said. “I grew up in a small town, and it seemed like something that I would have loved as a small child.”

The festival will begin at 6:30 p.m. Friday with a Christmas Variety Show performed by Expressions Dance Studio, Flipside Gymnastics and the Ste. Genevieve High School Choir at the Ste. Genevieve Performing Arts Center.

Saturday will feature performances and presentations all day, beginning with free croquignoles cakes in the Shaw House Courtyard and free hot cocoa at the Ste. Genevieve Learning Center, both beginning at 10 a.m.

At 11 a.m., the Christmas Parade will take place downtown, followed by the Lions Park Spectacular at noon. The spectacular will feature food, music and free photos with Santa. Also at noon, there will be French carolers throughout the historic district.

“The children get to meet Santa, they get their picture taken and they get taken around the town on trolleys to look at the historical section,” Rolfe said.

From 1 to 4 p.m., there will be multiple free performances throughout downtown, including chamber choir, string quartet, modern jazz, saxophone, pipe organ, cello and acoustic guitar performances.

From 4 to 4:45 p.m. there will be a free historical lecture at the Shaw House, a reception at the Guibourd House with hors d’oeuvres and a Ste. Genevieve Art Guild Reception and bluegrass music at the University of Missouri Extension Office.

The art guild’s annual Christmas Show will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Patke Room in the University of Missouri Extension Center. At 2 p.m. on Sunday the winner of the raffle for a piece titled, "By the Light of the Moon" will be announced.

Raffle tickets for the piece can be obtained from guild members or at the art show. A silent auction will also be held, benefiting the guild’s high school scholarship.

At 6 p.m., the community Christmas tree lighting ceremony will be held at the Ste. Genevieve Welcome Center and a live Bethlehem nativity scene will be hosted at the First Presbyterian Church.

Rolfe said the ceremony will feature historical music that will portray the roots of Ste. Genevieve while providing a special holiday experience.

“The children, they think they’re just getting a candy cane and seeing the ornaments,” she said. “But their brains are like sponges. They’re hearing the education and the history of the town at the same time. The kids love it so much and they come back every year.”

The festivities will resume Sunday afternoon with a violin solo performance at the Ste. Genevieve Welcome Center and a classical guitar performance at the Holy Cross Lutheran Church, both from 12:30 p.m. to 1:15 p.m.

At 3 p.m., there will be a harp solo performance at the Ste. Genevieve Catholic Church, followed by a performance by the Ste. Genevieve Municipal Band Symphonic Wind Ensemble at 4 p.m.

“I hope that everyone feels entertained and has a great time,” Rolfe said. “As people come back every year, you start to become friends with them. It might just be a couple you see every year, but it becomes a real magical experience. We hope everyone has a magical time.”

For more information and a complete schedule of activities, visit www.visitstegen.com/christmas-festival-dec/.

Jacob Scott is a reporter with the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3616 or at jscott@dailyjournalonline.com.

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