Winterfest filled with events for everyone

LUVERNE -- It's beginning to look at lot like Christmas with the new fallen snow and the twinkling decorations throughout town, and the community of Luverne hopes to kick the season off with style with its 13th annual Winterfest celebration Frida...

LUVERNE -- It's beginning to look at lot like Christmas with the new fallen snow and the twinkling decorations throughout town, and the community of Luverne hopes to kick the season off with style with its 13th annual Winterfest celebration Friday through Sunday.

Several new events and a host of favorite traditions are on tap for the festival, which begins with a story hour and puppet show for the children at 10:15 a.m. Friday at the Rock County Community Library. The puppet show tells the tale of three little pigs and the adventures they encounter on their way to the North Pole. The story, written by library staff, is based on the popular children's book, "The Polar Express," which is the theme for this year's Winterfest celebration.

Luverne Area Chamber of Commerce director Jane Lanphere is excited about all of the events planned this year that revolve around The Polar Express, from the puppet show on Friday to Saturday's book reading, human choo-choo train parade, Polar Express book give-away and Parade of Lights featuring Polar Express on Main Street.

Friday evening events include the annual D-Light-Full 5K run, which begins with a 5:30 p.m. registration and 6:30 p.m. race from the Luverne Area Aquatics & Fitness Center; a 6:30 p.m. cribbage Winterfest tournament at the Eagles Club; and a 7:30 p.m. performance of Bluegrass Christmas by Monroe Crossing at the Historic Palace Theatre in downtown Luverne. Tickets for the holiday concert are still available and may be reserved by calling the Palace Theatre or the Carnegie Cultural Center in Luverne.

On Saturday, an arts and crafts show will fill the Luverne Elementary School commons and Cardinal gym, and is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.


"We have more booths than we've ever had since I've been here," Lanphere said. "We have a lot of new vendors and that should be fun."

Coinciding with the craft show is a gingerbread house contest, which is returning to the Winterfest celebration after a four-year hiatus. The contest is open to anyone, and categories are children, adults and businesses/organizations. A $50 Chamber gift card will be awarded to the first place gingerbread house in each category. Voting will be done by the public between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., with the awards ceremony at 1:30 p.m.

Rock County 4-H'ers are coordinating the annual Santa's Workshop, which will be just down the hall from the craft show in the elementary school's activity room. The workshop, also with a Polar Express theme, is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and is filled with a shopping center for kids and make and take projects for children in kindergarten through fourth grade.

Myhre Studio of Luverne will be on hand to take pictures with Santa from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the elementary school. This year, the Polar Express backdrop will be featured in the photos. People may order a 5x7 portrait, with proceeds going to Rock County S.H.A.R.E.

The Hinkly House in Luverne will be open for tours of the Nutcracker Fantasy from 1 to 9 p.m. Saturday, featuring a large collection of nutcrackers on display in the historic home.

At 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Casey McKenzie of the Green Earth Players will don his conductor's uniform and read the story of "The Polar Express" to children in the activity room at Luverne Elementary School. Children will be able to register for one of 55 hardcover copies of "The Polar Express," which will be given away following the reading. Children must be present to win.

Lanphere said the Rock County Community Library and Chamber member businesses collaborated on fundraising to purchase the books for the giveaway. In addition to the book give-away, the first 200 children in attendance for the reading will receive a free bell and engineer's hat.

After the reading, the children will gather to form a human choo-choo train and then wind their way through the craft show.


Additional events on Saturday include a $1 skate at the Blue Mound Ice Arena from 6:30 to 8 p.m., and the Eagle's Steak Fry at the Luverne Eagle's Club from 6 to 9 p.m.

The highlight of the evening is the Parade of Lights at 7 p.m. Saturday on Main Street. The lighted parade will feature the Polar Express theme. Visitors are invited to stop in at Elegant Events for hot chocolate during the parade.

Several events are taking place throughout the weekend, including:

* A buffalo feeding time at 9 a.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Blue Mound State Park;

* Dollar swim at the Luverne Area Aquatics & Fitness Center from 6 to 8:45 p.m. Friday, 1-7 p.m. Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday.

* A Festival of Trees from noon to 5 p.m. Friday, and from 1 to 9 p.m. Saturday, at the Carnegie Cultural Center. Lanphere invites people to view the "beautifully decorated Christmas trees" and enjoy cider and cookies.

l Blue Mound Liquors will host a free wine tasting from 4 to 9:45 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

* The American Reformed Church Youth will present the "Chronicles of Suburbia" at the Historic Palace Theatre following the parade Saturday, and at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.


* Many of the Luverne businesses will offer special bargains throughout the weekend for holiday shoppers.

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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