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Christmas Festival coming this weekend

The 34th annual Wadena Christmas Festival will be presented Nov. 28-29 at Memorial Auditorium and the Wadena-Deer Creek Elementary School.

This 2009 show's theme is "Joy to the World." Doors are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Children's activities begin at 1 p.m. each day.

The festival will be filled with music, 82 arts and crafts vendors, food, performing artists, Santa Claus and children's activities.

"Bonnie Ealy, our crafters and artistans manager, announced two weeks ago that all spaces have been filled," festival coordinator Mim Maas said. "This is the first time we filled so soon. Usually we have a few spaces left until just a few days before we open."

This year's festival has many "veteran" vendors, but it also boasts 19 first-timers.

Maas said this year, because of the economy, the committee began planning the festival with some concern about being able to pull it off.

"Every year I ask my committee, 'how can it get any better?' But, somehow, it does," she said. "This year will be no exception."

The festival did not have a Santa Claus at one time but Maas got a call out of the blue several years ago from a "Santa" who wanted to set up his headquarters at the festival, hand out treats to kids, and offer picture taking with Santa.

"You have to check it out yourself, it is phenomenal!" Maas said. "It is like the North Pole has moved down right into the elementary cafeteria, complete with a train that whistles and goes through a tunnel, under Santa Claus's ramp."

The train setup is owned and operated by Wadena native Dave Kraemer, whose construction class has built several of Santa's headquarters pieces.

Some arts and crafts activities were also offered for children at the festival last year.

Diane Anderson remembered how she brought her own children there 30 years ago and how much they enjoyed the crafts. Anderson volunteered to do it again, this time, for her grandchildren. One of her granddaughters will be assisting her this year, as well as local Girl Scouts and LEO members. These activities begin at 1 p.m. each day.

"To top it all off," Maas added, "this year on Saturday, children will have the chance to meet several characters from 'The Beauty and the Beast' and 'The Wizard of Oz' on Sunday. These special characters will also arrive around 1 p.m. both days."

Entertainment coordinator Lori Baron has also scheduled entertainment that takes place on stage and piano students performing in the cafeteria. Returning this year to the stage is the internationally known pianist Bradley Joseph; the Wadena Area Community Band, directed by John Lindlief; Fran Gack, from Park Rapids; the Trinity Bells, from New York Mills; the Brittani Dance Class and the Wadena Area Just for Kix. Students of piano instructors Lea Snyder, Jackie Tellers, Marilyn Twete, and Mary Beth Brockpahler will be in the cafeteria on Saturday,

Deb Nelson's fifth- and sixth-grade choir will perform Sunday.

Food will also be available. Serving in the cafeteria will be FCCLA and at the Minnesota Highway 29 concession stand will be the Wadena Danceline team.

"It is all of the different organizations and volunteers who make this festival what it is," Maas said. "I owe many thanks to the Rotary, Lions, WDC Leos Club, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, FCCLA, the Wadena Chamber of Commerce and the Convention and Visitors Bureau, and also to my committee: Bonnie Ealy, Dee Polman, Lori Baron, Gwen Macklem, Inge Strayer, Bonnie Schlecht, Diane Anderson, Lois Miller and MaryAnn Hagen."

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Auditorium Stage

10 a.m.: Celtic Sunshine by Fran Gack

11 a.m.: Bradley Joseph

Noon: Trinity Bells, Trinity Lutheran Church, New York Mills

1 p.m.: Celtic Sunshine by Fran Gack

2 p.m.: Bradley Joseph

3 p.m.: Brittani Dance Class


11 a.m. Lea Snyder and students

Noon: Jackie Tellers and students

1 p.m.: Marlyn Twete and students

2 p.m. Mary Beth Brockpahler and students

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Auditorium Stage

Noon: Bradley Joseph

1 p.m.: Wadena Area "Just For Kix"

2 p.m.: Wadena Area Community Band


Noon: Fifth- and sixth-grades' After School Choir