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Ste. Gen Holiday Christmas Festival kicks off Saturday

The Ste. Genevieve High School Madrigal Choir sings during the 2021 tree-lighting ceremony. The tree lighting is back, along with all the other favorites, as the 39th annual Ste. Genevieve Christmas Holiday Festival kicks off Saturday morning. Ste. Genevieve Herald

MARK EVANS, St. Genevieve Herald

Plenty of things will be on tap for the 39th annual Ste. Genevieve Holiday Christmas Festival, Dec. 2-3. In addition to lots of live music and the mammoth Christmas parade, the festival will also feature expert speakers, a magician, a tree-lighting ceremony and more.

The tree lighting ceremony, which caps Saturday’s activities at 6 p.m., has always been a highlight of the event.

“That is the thing I get lots of compliments on,” Festival Executive Director Annette Rolfe said. “I’ve had multiple people say they adore it. They say it’s like a Hallmark Christmas card.”

In addition to the actual lighting, there is singing and Gary Scheel’s talk on local history. Rolfe thinks Scheel’s talk helps keep interest in local history alive in the younger age groups. She recommends that people then head down the block on South Main and see the Live Nativity at First Presbyterian Church and enjoy outdoor Christmas carols.

She called the tree lighting and Nativity “a wonderful end to the program Saturday night.”

Rolfe and her husband Frank have also added a bit of nostalgic history to the festival. At an auction, they came across a “Christmas Around The World” display that had been in a St. Louis department store during the early 1930s. Too nice to throw out, it had been carefully packed away for decades. The curio cabinet shows a cutaway of living rooms around the world, with miniature figures from various nations celebrating Christmas Sam Hughey was able to put it back together for them. It will be on display in the Third Street window of the Du-Bourg Centre.

Rolfe said it hearkens back to the type of handcrafted window displays shoppers would have seen in the legendary Marshall Fields department store in Chicago during the Great Depression. Local historian Bob Mueller will give a lecture on the 18th-century French Ste. Genevieve Christmas and 19th-century German

Christmas traditions. He will speak at the Bossier-Shaw House from 4 to 4:45 p.m. on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Lisa Palmer with Never Bored Creations will teach the art of paper filigree at the Bossier-Shaw House, 1-3 p.m., Saturday. Dance Discovery from St. Louis will perform historical dances at the Felix Valle State Historic Site, 2-2:45 p.m. on Saturday. These tie in with the Felix Valle Site’s annual Le Reveillon. Renowned magician Bruce Dyvig will perform at the Ste. Genevieve Museum Learning Center, 1-1:45 p.m. on Saturday.

Rolfe urges people to come out for the festival, even if temperatures dip. “It’s worth going out on a cold day,” she said. “Just bundle up really good. It is so worth your while to be here. It is a magical, magnificent and wonderful experience. It’s the start of the holiday, and it will carry you through to the New Year.”


Things kick off at 9 a.m., Saturday, with the Valle Craft Fair, lasting until 4 p.m.

Read Me A Story from the Friends of Ste. Genevieve Library will begin at 10 a.m. at The Anvil. The parade begins at 11 a.m. at the Valle Desert. The Lions Park Spectacular follows at noon. It includes free photos with Santa, plus hot chocolate, hot dogs, and traditional Christmas and country music by Vernon Flieg. Children under 12 eat free when accompanied by an adult.

At the same time, Diane Wilson will do Christmas crafts for children at the Orris Theatre. Live music will be performed throughout the weekend.

The 1 to 1:45 p.m. Saturday time slot will see outstanding music performed at venues throughout downtown. The Southeast Missouri State University Chamber Choir, under the direction of Dr. Barbara LaMont, featuring Renaissance pieces up to contemporary holiday music, will perform at the Church of Ste. Genevieve.

At the same time, the Southern Illinois University- Carbondale String Quartet, led by world-class viola performer Dr. Rosanna Cauti, will perform at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, while the Isaac Laussel Trio will appear at First Presbyterian Church. Laussel, incidentally, is Cauti’s husband.

Adele Martin and Bluesette will be doing authentic French café music jazz, blues and Christmas tunes at Music, Art, Love, 137 N. Main. These all repeat at 2 p.m., along with Dyvig’s magic act.

At 3 p.m., Matt Palisch, professor of organ at SEMO, will perform on the pipe organ at the Church of Ste. Genevieve. He will perform 19th-, and 20th-century classical music and Christmas tunes. At the Welcome Center, renowned saxophonist Gerry Huggins will perform contemporary and smooth jazz and holiday music.

At the same time, Stormy and Eric Bennett will have an acoustic guitar concert at the Orris Theatre. Palisch will have one concert only. The Bennetts and Huggins will perform again at 4 p.m. The 4 p.m. hour is also when Mueller’s Christmas traditions lecture will be at the Bossier-Shaw House.

A reception will also be that hour at the Guibourd-Valle House, at Fourth and Merchant, with hors d’oeuvres and Baroque music by Cauti. The Sainte Genevieve Art Guild reception and Christmas Show will also be going on, with Laussel doing a Renaissance-era flute solo at the old museum building.

The Christmas Show will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. Alternative country music will also be performed by Academy Hill at Music, Art, Love. Le Réveillon officially kicks off at the Valle House at 5 p.m., celebrating food, customs and decorations of the early 1800s. It lasts until 8 p.m. The tree-lighting ceremony is at 6 p.m., with a live Nativity scene at First Presbyterian Church.

On Sunday, Cauti will do Impressionistic period violin music at the Welcome Center from 12:30-

1:15 p.m., while Laussel gives a classical guitar concert at the Welcome Center. Both concerts repeat at 1:30. At 2:30 p.m., the popular Southeast Missouri State University Steel Drum Band, directed by Dr. Shane Mizicko, will perform at the DuBourg Center, Third and Merchant. It will repeat at 2:30.

At 3 p.m., renowned Celtic artist and SEMO instructor Chadie Fruehwald will give a harp solo featuring Classical, Celtic and Christmas music at the Church of Ste. Genevieve. Finally, at 4 p.m., the Ste. Genevieve Municipal Band Symphonic Wind Ensemble will perform at the Church of Ste. Genevieve.

Mark Evans is the editor of the St. Genevieve Herald, a sister newspaper of the Daily Journal.

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