Festival of Lights opens with gingerbread-house contest set for Saturday

After raising a record of more than $100,000 last year, organizers are optimistic to exceed that at the 15th annual Festival of Lights

After raising a record of more than $100,000 last year, organizers are optimistic to exceed that at the 15th annual Festival of Lights in Stettler from Nov. 27 to Dec. 1 at the Stettler Community Hall.

To kick off the major Christmas event to raise funds for Stettler Hospital and Care Centre, the first gingerbread-house contest will feature several local creations this Saturday at the Stettler Recreation Centre from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“We wanted to include this in our week-long festival, but couldn’t schedule it in, so we decided to have it this Saturday,” said Sue Peterson, who chairs the festival committee of Stettler Health Services Foundation.

Early this week, 22 entries had been registered, said Szi Szi Kostenuk, a longtime member.

“Stettler use to have this event annually years ago and had over 100 entries,” she said.

The deadline to register is today.

Organizers hope to beat last year’s total of $101,358, as funds this year will purchase overhead lifts for beds.

“We hope to raise funds for a lift on every bed,” Kostenuk said.

Health care and the hospital continue to be at the heart of the community, she said.

“Support is growing and we couldn’t do this without the support of the community,” said Peterson, who noted that funds keep on rising from the previous year.

Another new event during the week is the Jingle Mingle on Wednesday, when guests can socialize with the crafters and artisans with their products in the Christmas Market, which runs Tuesday to Friday from noon to 5 p.m.

Tickets have already been sold out for the Dessert First Night on Tuesday, and the dine, dance and auction Saturday night, while just a few tickets remain for the Sounds of the Season Concert on Thursday.

Talented young Erskine singer Jesse Robinson, a chorus of singers with Rhonda Sylvester, Danceology of Stettler and Jazz Explosion of Red Deer will take centre stage to entertain.

Officially, the Festival of Lights opens with the Owen Blake Memorial Breakfast on Tuesday from 7 to 9 a.m., with a special invitation for businesses to get together.

The schedule also includes:

Sharing the Season Seniors’ Tea on Wednesday from 2 to 4 p.m.

Cocoa, Cookies and Santa Claus for the children on Friday from 2 to 5 p.m.

For more information, phone at Peterson at 403-742-6004 or visit the festival website at stettlerfestivaloflights.ca

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