Nothing proclaims winter like a nice, hearty chili, and for the Big Valley and area residents looking to enjoy the annual Christmas Party and Lights judging, there was plenty on hand on Thursday, Dec. 22.
The cool winter weather had warmed from the polar cold that had been the hallmark of the two weeks leading up to Christmas.
The annual event is hosted by the Village of Big Valley, the community’s FCSS office, the Big Valley Rodeo Association and Friends of the Library. This year, the event was planned by Marge Olive-Kilpatrick.
“For years, we’ve had outdoor events and hotdogs,” Olive-Kilpatrick said. With the extreme cold leading up to the event, though, she decided to do something different and move the activities into the Big Valley Jubilee Hall. There, the hotdogs were replaced with filling, piping-hot chili, meant to dispel the winter’s icy grasp.
“This year, Friends of the Library set up a shopping bazaar, so anyone who needs a last minute gift can find one,” Olive-Kilpatrick said.
The bazaar was set to the side in the hall, and was full of items for people of all ages and genders. Nothing had a price on it – as the items had been donated, all items were available at the simple cost of whatever the person had on hand.
Andrea Webster, a director of the Friends of the Library group, monitored the bazaar, all while wearing a bright red-and-white Santa hat.
“I always wanted my kids to be able to shop for something for mom and dad, without mom and dad there,” she explained. “This way, they can pick something without guidance, a genuine present.”
She said that the response from the children had been amazing, and there was a “glowing joy” in them when they, and they alone, picked a gift for people they loved.
Anything that did not find its way to a new home by the end of the evening would be stored for the following year, Webster said, ensuring the Christmas bazaar can become an annual tradition.
After supper, hayrides took families through Big Valley to see the various Christmas lights, while members of the rodeo association chose the best lit houses.
Those winners were announced later in the evening, after performances by the Stettler and Big Valley ukulele group and Red Deer’s Don Johnson.