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State decks out historic sites for holidays

Travelers during the holiday season could enjoy a variety of seasonal celebrations at state historic sites, several of which are free.

The closest celebrations to the Parkland are in Ste. Genevieve and St. Charles. All events are sponsored by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

The Felix Vallé House State Historic Site in Ste. Genevieve will hold a French Christmas Open House from 1-7 p.m. Dec. 9. The 25th annual celebration highlights the music, food, customs and decorations of an early French Christmas celebration known as Le Réveillon.

Costumed guides will explain the early 1800s customs and the dining room will be filled with traditional foods. Musical entertainment will be provided, along with samples of the bûche de Noël (Yule log cake). Admission is free. For more information, call 573-883-7102.  

 The First Missouri State Capitol State Historic Site in St. Charles plans two events.

The site will hold Capitol by Candlelight tours from 6-8 p.m. Dec. 12 and Dec. 21. Tours will be given of Missouri’s first Capitol as it would have been in the 1820s. Guides will lead visitors through each room, lit only by candles. Period-dressed interpreters will explain the site’s history.

Visitors can enjoy traditional 17th century refreshments while listening to Christmas carols at the conclusion of the tour. Cost is $2.50 per adult and $1.50 per child. Reservations are required by calling 636-940-3322.

The site also will hold a Candlelight Christmas Concert Dec. 22. The concert begins at 8 p.m. Jackie Wright will explain the stories behind favorite Christmas carols and Glenn “Papa” Wright will perform the songs using traditional instruments. Tickets are $6.

Other seasonal events around the state include the following.

Nov. 24

Arrow Rock State Historic Site in Saline County will hold the Hanging of the Greens in the site’s village on Friday. The event is free.

Beginning at 1 p.m., garlands made with evergreen will be hung along the village boardwalk while everyone joins in with holiday caroling. Visitors can help decorate an old fashioned Christmas tree and make natural ornaments to take home from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the visitor’s center. A special visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus will top off the afternoon. Call 660-837-3330 for more information.

Dec. 1

Christmas on the Farm takes place Dec. 1 at Watkins Woolen Mill State Park and State Historic Site in Clay County. The historic site will host an 1870s Christmas celebration from 2 until 7 p.m. at the decorated Watkins home. Admission is free.

Activities of the day include caroling, a Christmas room for children and period entertainment. The entertainment will last into the evening hours, when the Watkins home will be lit by lamplight. Seasonal refreshments will be served. Call 816-580-3387 for more information.

Dec. 8

The Battle of Lexington State Historic Site in Lexington will hold its Shot, Shell and Christmas, from 2 to 8 p.m. in Lafayette County. The Friends of the Anderson House and Missouri Medical Brigade will present Christmas at a Civil War field hospital. The Anderson House will be decorated in a simple manner. Ladies and gentlemen from town will visit the hospital bringing food, music and comfort to the wounded.

Tours will be hourly and cost $10 for ages 13 and older and $6 for ages six to 12. For more information, call 660-259-4654.

Arrow Rock State Historic Site in Saline County will hold candlelight tours of Huston Tavern. The free tours will take place from 6-8 p.m. and refreshments will be served.

Guests also may make reservations for a candlelight dinner at the tavern on Dec. 1, 8 or 15 by calling (660) 837-3200. Dinners typically range in cost from $11.95 to $16.95.

Ash Grove Community in Action Christmas Homes Tour will be held from 5-8 p.m. at the Nathan Boone Homestead State Historic Site, Ash Grove, in Greene County. Included in the evening holiday tour is the Nathan Boone home. There will be samples of seasonal refreshments and tours of Nathan Boone’s 1837 log home, which will be decked out in Yuletide fashion.

The house is just one among many on the tour route. Cost is $5 per person. For tickets, times or other information, contact the Ash Grove Community in Action at (417) 751-3227 or the historic site at 417-751-3266.

Dec. 14-15

The Hunter-Dawson State Historic Site in New Madrid County will hold Christmas Candlelight Tours of the Hunter-Dawson home. The 1860s Victorian Christmas decorations will include hundreds of feet of pine roping, three Christmas trees, ribbons and trimming. Staff in period costumes will give tours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8:30 p.m.  Refreshments will be served. The tours are free. For more information, call 573-748-5340.

Paula Barr is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 172 or at

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