The Magic of Christmas

The Christmas Village at Heritage Farm Museum & Village has become a holiday tradition for thousands of area residents.

By Katherine Pyles

This winter, if you begin to question whether Christmas magic exists, just follow the stars to the outskirts of Huntington.

There you’ll find Santa Claus, sitting in an old wooden chair in a 19th-century log cabin, greeting children with a warm smile and an old-fashioned candy cane. It’s the very picture of Christmas joy: little ones bounding to Santa’s lap, grinning for a photo and sharing their Christmas wishes, sometimes in a whisper, often in a shout. Outside, you’ll see the Nativity story reenacted beneath the stars, featuring a live animal cast of sheep, goats and a donkey. As the drama of Jesus’s birth unfolds, you’ll know in your head that you’re in Wayne County. In your heart, you’ll be in Bethlehem.

On Nov. 30, Dec. 1, Dec. 7, Dec. 8, Dec. 14 and Dec. 15, from 5-9 p.m., Heritage Farm Museum & Village transforms its sprawling log cabin village into a winter wonderland called the Christmas Village, complete with live Christmas entertainment, an artisan gift market, bread-oven cookies and more.

“Our goal is for people to come and experience the Christmas Village together,” said Audy Perry, executive director of Heritage Farm. “Christmas is a time to come together. It’s about the traditions that we celebrate, together. Christmas elicits memories from our own childhood and envelops the hopes and dreams that we have for our children and grandchildren.”

During the Christmas Village, the 500-acre museum and village twinkles with Christmas lights, setting the stage for holiday-themed activities for all ages. Guests enjoy live Christmas music from local school groups, s’mores roasted around a campfire and handcrafted gifts from artisans, including tinsmiths, blacksmiths, potters, printers and basketweavers. This year, a wagon ride through the forest will feature additional light displays — as well as an opportunity to see some beloved animal friends visiting for the Christmas season. For many, however, Santa’s Makershop is the highlight of the event. Hosted by Mrs. Claus, who bears a striking resemblance to Heritage Farm co-founder Henriella Perry, the Makershop gives children a chance to make toys for boys and girls in need.

“Children can meet Santa Claus and tell him all their hopes and dreams, then take a wagon ride out to the Makershop to make Christmas wishes come true for other boys and girls,” Perry said. “They’re having fun, because they’re getting to use hammers and nails and screwdrivers, but they’re also getting to experience the joy of giving back.”

Away from the lights of the city and hustle and bustle of the mall, it’s easy to see why the Christmas Village at Heritage Farm has become a holiday tradition for thousands of area residents. After all, if nostalgia and Christmas go hand in hand, where better to spend the holidays than at a place whose mission is to connect Appalachians with their past?

“There’s something within that Appalachian story that hearkens us back to a time when we celebrated together,” said Perry. “We want people to come celebrate the past, experience the joy of today and discover hope for tomorrow.”

Tickets for the Christmas Village are $10 for adults, $5 for children and free for Annual Pass holders. Children 2 and under are also free. Guests may park at the farm or use the complimentary shuttle from Christ Temple Church; several shuttles have been added for this year’s event to make even the busiest nights run smoothly, Perry said. For more information, visit

www.heritagefarmmuseum.com.



 

KATHERINE PYLES is a freelance writer and editor.

 

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