By Jeff Noble / Staff Writer
Tourism officials in Barbourville want people to get more into the Christmas spirit this year.
To do that, they’re working out details for a holiday festival that combines old favorites with new events.
The first-ever “Spirit of Christmas Festival” was announced Wednesday during the regular meeting of the Barbourville Tourist and Recreation Commission, who is presenting the festival.
The new festival runs from Monday, Dec. 2, to Sunday, Dec. 8, and features entertainment, music, exhibits and activities for children.
Many of the events will be held in downtown Barbourville, with two events on the Union College campus.
While the first full week of December will be the focus for much of the festival, two events will begin next month.
One is the Miss Christmas Spirit Pageant set for Nov. 23 at Union College’s Conway Boatman Chapel. A scholarship to Union will be awarded to the miss and teen winner, with title holders also making appearances throughout the festival, as well as riding on a float during the “I Believe In Christmas Parade.”
The annual parade through downtown Barbourville — normally the Saturday after Thanksgiving — has been moved this year to Saturday, Dec. 7, at 6 p.m.
Barbourville Tourism Director Denise Wainscott said Wednesday those wanting to enter the new pageant can pick up an application at the Tourism Office. The deadline to enter is Nov. 15.
Another event is the “Kick Off of the Snowman Hunt,” to be held Nov. 25. Sponsored by Safehouse LLC, the hunt features a $500 prize. More information on the hunt will be available soon at www.facebook.com/barbourville.christmas.
The Spirit of Christmas Festival’s week of winter wonder kicks off with the Decorated Christmas Tree Contest on Monday, Dec. 2.
A silent auction for Christmas Trees, with the proceeds going to support Barbourville Tourism obtaining banners for Main Street, takes place the next day, Tuesday, Dec. 3.
Much of the action gets underway that weekend, Friday, Dec. 6, and Saturday, Dec. 7.
On that Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m.-7 p.m., “Artisans on the Square” will feature more than a dozen artisans, exhibiting their works in empty spaces downtown that will be decorated for the holidays.
Other Friday events include the “Top Baker Contest” for cooks, the Lighting of the Christmas Tree, and “Barbourville’s Got Talent.” Wainscott noted they’re anticipating 25 acts to perform for the new downtown contest.
A big day is lined up for that Saturday, with Artisans on the Square, the “Santa Run and Elf Dash,” Hay Rides and Train Rides sponsored by the Knox County Library, an Open House, along with Music and Entertainment on the Stage downtown.
The night kicks in with the “I Believe In Santa Claus Parade” at 6 p.m. and ending at 7 p.m. That’s followed with Santa Claus setting up shop after the parade at Barbourville Water Park, and a Christmas Concert at Union College, starting at 8 p.m.
The new festival ends on Sunday, Dec. 8, with the Barbourville Woman’s Study Club’s “Annual Tour of Homes.”
Wainscott noted specific times and locations for most of the events will be announced in the weeks ahead. More information on the festival can be obtained by calling 545-9674.
“This will be a large leap for Barbourville, to have a week’s worth of events for the Christmas season, instead of just the parade. It’ll be different than what we had in the past,” said Board Member Charles Frazier.
“This year will be fun,” added Wainscott.
While no action was taken, board members discussed the possibility of holding a barbecue festival in the city, which would feature cook teams in competition for awards and prizes.
The weekend of June 20-21, 2014 was mentioned as a tentative date for the event.
Known as “Competition BBQ,” the festival features cook-offs where people prepare one or more items to be judged on a variety of items, such as pork ribs, chicken, beef brisket, sausages and sauces.
Noted competitions include those at the International BBQ Festival in Owensboro, Bloomin’ Barbecue & Bluegrass in Sevierville, Tenn., Carolina Mountain Ribfest in Asheville, N.C., and the Boss Hogg Cook-Off in Waynesboro, Ga.
In her report, Wainscott said the recent Daniel Boone Festival was “a big success this year. I felt like the crowd was bigger than before. Having no rain for the entire festival helped a lot this year. ‘The Snowman’ for the Christmas Parade was there, and a lot of people saw it, which reminds them of the parade coming up soon. And ‘The Turtleman’ made a surprise visit, which really brought out the crowd.”
She thanked Mayor David Thompson and the City of Barbourville for bringing TV’s “The Turtleman” — also known as Ernie Brown Jr., of Washington County — to the festival, held earlier this month.
An update on the fire alarm monitoring system in the Barbourville Tourism building was given by board member Randell Young. He said they decided to have an annual inspection done on the system, as well as continue with Superior Monitoring for services for another year.
“We’re probably saving around $100 a month on our fire monitoring system, and we’re completely legal. We’re in good shape for another year,” he noted.
Along with approving the minutes and the financial report, the board approved getting a new copier system through a lease-to-own deal. Wainscott said the agreement would not only get a better copier that would do everything needed, but could be upgraded in time.
“It would make our life a whole lot easier. It takes different weights of paper, it’s a time-saver, and it’s a copier that does it all,” she added.