Jackson County’s only Christmas festival has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a post on its Facebook page Monday night, the Medora Christmas Festival committee announced its decision to cancel this year’s festival and parade.
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To bring cheer to the season, the committee said it still wants to do the Christmas tree lighting, letters to Santa and house decorating contest.
“It’s going to be a disappointment, but we wanted to do whatever is safest for the people of Medora, and that’s why we don’t want to officially cancel everything. We still want to have the contest and everything we can to try to keep Christmas in the town of Medora,” committee secretary Pamela Breeden said.
The event has been a tradition in the small southwestern Jackson County community since 1972 and used to just feature a parade.
It later expanded to include a festival conducted on the first Saturday in December.
Last year, the festival featured food, craft and flea market vendor booths; breakfast and lunch at the senior citizens center; live entertainment; a prince and princess contest; a parade; visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus; and a Christmas ball with live music, an ugly Christmas sweater contest, an auction, door prizes and a 50/50 drawing at the conservation club.
The Friday before last year’s festival, the lighting of the town Christmas tree was conducted in front of the library with snacks, a live Nativity and Christmas carols sung by area churches. Also, “A Christmas Story” was read at the senior citizens center, and residents could vote on the Carr Township house lighting contest before winners were announced that night.
This year, the festival was set for Dec. 2. Breeden said the committee had met in January and February before meetings were canceled because of the pandemic. Its first meeting since February was Monday night.
“We just asked for everyone’s opinion,” she said. “Some of the things that were mentioned were the different things that we would have to go through with the health department if we went on with the event, the backlash that we would get from the community if we did have it. We thought we would probably get some for canceling. We want to take the higher road and be safe, but we didn’t want to not do anything.”
The committee hopes the tree lighting, house decorating contest and letters to Santa can still go on.
For the tree lighting event, Breeden said the committee will see what kind of response it gets from churches and others in the community.
“We don’t know what all we’re going to do there yet, but we want to go ahead and try to have that,” she said. “Live Nativity or not or just light the tree, it’s too early to tell.”
The committee felt the house decorating contest would be safe to do.
“We thought maybe with people having more time at home, we would get more people involved,” Breeden said. “That’s something people can drive around and look at the homes and still be safe.”
Letters to Santa was done for the first time in 2019 and involved a box set up in town for kids to drop in their wish list.
“We will try to coordinate with the school and see if we can enhance that program to get more people involved,” Breeden said. “Then again, none of the details have been hashed out yet.”
One thing is for sure: The festival committee will decorate the town for Christmas as it has in the past.
“We decided that we’re definitely going to go ahead and do that,” Breeden said.
The committee meets on the third Monday of each month. The next meeting is at 6 p.m. Oct. 19 at Medora Wesleyan Church, 191 S. David St. It’s open to the public, and attendees must wear a mask and practice social distancing.
“We encourage anyone that wants to come, wants to be a part of it or has a suggestion they want to bring,” Breeden said.
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What: Medora Christmas Festival committee meeting
When: 6 p.m. Oct. 19
Where: Medora Wesleyan Church, 191 S. David St., Medora
Who: Open to the public; attendees must wear a mask and practice social distancing
Even though this year’s festival has been canceled, the committee still hopes to do the Christmas tree lighting, house decorating contest and letters to Santa. The public’s input is welcome at the meeting.