Festival of Lights gears up for 17th year

Organizers will soon start decking the halls as the 17th annual Festival of Lights fundraising campaign kicks off later this month.

Organizers will soon start decking the halls as the 17th annual Festival of Lights fundraising campaign kicks off later this month.

The event — a fundraiser for the Stettler Health Services Foundation — will run from Nov. 25 to 29 at the Stettler Community Hall.

The hall will be open each day from noon till 5 p.m. for the Christmas market, featuring unique products made by local crafters and artisans.

Items for sale will include pottery, glass, quilts, ornaments, candy, willow, jewelry, and cards and gift tags. Guests can bid on items in the silent auction from Nov. 25 to 28; door prizes and a mini raffle are also available.

In addition, the week will feature lots of special events, from the gourmet breakfast and the dessert evening on Nov. 25 to the “Dine, Dance and Auction” on Nov. 29.

Sue Peterson, head of the 12-member festival committee, said the aim is to raise around $100,000 for a modern nurse call system for the hospital.

The new equipment would allow the nurses to quickly determine where calls are coming from and thus help them to provide more prompt care to patients.

“It’s exciting and exhausting for the committee,” said Peterson, adding that the members are all “passionate and enthusiastic about this project.”

“We completely transform the Community Hall,” she continued. “The community is just so very generous.”

In recent years the festival has raised an average of $100,000 annually for other needed equipment, such as birthing beds, overhead lifts, a colonoscope, an infant incubator, palliative care beds, heart monitors and a patient monitoring system.

In its first 16 years, the festival has raised more than $630,000 — quite impressive given its humble beginnings.

Peterson remembered the festival’s first year, held in the hospital atrium, which was decorated in what she called “Charlie Brown trees.”

The event raised $1,800, she added, saying, “We were over the moon. We were beside ourselves for accomplishing that.”

Planning for the festival takes place throughout the year, and Peterson said the committee is already “percolating” with items for 2015.

Following is the schedule of special events for this year’s festival:

Saturday, Nov. 15: Gingerbread House Contest, Legion Hall, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; entry deadline is Nov. 12.

Tuesday, Nov. 25: Gourmet Breakfast, 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., advance tickets $15; Dessert First, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., advance tickets $20.

Wednesday, Nov. 26: Sharing the Season Seniors’ Tea, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., admission $5; Christmas Spirits, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., advance tickets $25, featuring the Jazz Guys.

Thursday, Nov. 27: Sounds of the Season concert, featuring the Cantus Choir, Len Lieurance, Roddy Bryce and Hearts of Harmony; advance tickets $20; wine and cheese, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 28: Children’s Wonderland at the Agriplex, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., with cocoa, cookies, pictures with Santa, sleigh rides, other new activities.

Saturday, Nov. 29: Dine, Dance and Auction, doors opening at 5:30 p.m., advance tickets $60.

Tickets are available now from WISH Kitchen and Gift. General daily admission is $2 per person. For more information, visit www.stettlerfestivaloflights.ca.