Leavenworth to see changes at Light Up
By Stephanie Taylor Ferriell, Senior Staff Writer
Changes are coming to this year’s Light Up Leavenworth. This is the sixth year for the event, which will take place Saturday. The 2022 edition will include a wishing tree, food row, craft vendors, Breeden Memorial Library open house, contests and — what organizers are most excited about — a lighted holiday village.
Librarian Tina Brison, who chairs the committee, said the group has been working several months to plan and assemble the 16 buildings that will make up the village to be located in front of the library.
“I’ve always wanted to do a holiday village,” said Brison.
The idea came to life this year when she found an idea online for a cityscape constructed of PVC pipe wrapped in lights.
“I thought, ‘We can build a Christmas village’,” she said.
Brison said the village would not have been possible without the support of Light Up’s platinum sponsors Becky Higgins Realty, Nicholas A. Siler Attorney at Law, Dairy Dip, Crawford County Sheriff Jeff Howell, Barbara Shaw/Remax, Tower Full Gospel Church and Mulzer Quarry.
“We so appreciate our sponsors,” she said.
The festival will kick off with a parade at 2:30 p.m. Anyone may enter. See the Light Up Leavenworth Facebook page for information or drop by the library.
At 3 p.m., an opening ceremony will welcome visitors and introduce the Wishing Tree.
A donation in any amount will enable the donor to obtain a fillable ornament with a solar tea light inside. Brison said someone may wish for something such as world peace or harmony within their family. Those wishes may be placed inside the ornaments. However, those who have a wish that could be granted — a new winter coat, for example — may use a piece of gold paper that attaches to the ornament. The community will be invited to choose and fill the wishes.
“There are no guarantees a wish will be granted, but we hope some will be,” said Brison, noting she’s had several people ask already about how to grant a wish. “It’s such a neat community idea; we’re just trying to help each other. We’re trying to make good things happen.”
The holiday village will be filled with vendors offering a variety of items and with platinum sponsors visiting and handing out treats.
The community is encouraged to enter a chili cook-off. Entry fee is $5, and the winner will receive half the pot.
Slow cookers filled with one’s favorite chili recipe may be dropped off at the Leavenworth Volunteer Fire Dept. beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday. The contest will be judged after the parade, and the chilies will then be for sale.
The street between the fire department and Stephenson’s General Store will be a food row, filled with vendors with a seating area for the public.
The food offerings don’t end there.
Everyone’s favorite — or not — holiday confection, the fruitcake, will be front and center at this year’s festival. Bakers are invited to enter a homemade fruitcake for judging. Prizes of $25 will be awarded to the best, worst and heaviest cakes. A panel of young judges, accompanied by an adult, will serve as judges. Fruitcakes can be entered beginning at 3 p.m. with judging to take place at 5.
There will be a fruitcake chucking competition in front of the old town hall. Participants will be asked to sling a store-bought fruitcake. Whoever throws it the farthest will win $25.
Light Up Leavenworth will also include visits with Santa at the library and crafts for kids.
There will be children’s games, a bounce house, pony and horse rides, a petting zoo and a silent auction.
The library will host an open house from 5 to 7 p.m.
“Come in, warm up and enjoy free desserts and drink,” said Brison.
Contest winners will be announced at 6:25 p.m. followed by Brison reading “ ’Twas the Night Before Christmas.” The poetry contest winner will flip the switch, bringing the holiday village to life and the festival to a close.
“I’m very excited about how much it’s growing,” said Brison. “Our goal has always been to support local businesses, pull in tourism and bring the community together. With this big spurt of growth, we’re hoping to eventually make an attraction that draws a more regional crowd.”