Lights, festivals and fun

Santa Claus will be riding in this year’s Jingle Bell Parade during the Wonders of Christmas celebration Dec. 6. After the parade, Santa will visit with children at the gazebo on the west side of the square. This photo was taken during the 2017 parade.

During the 2018 Bakersfield Christmas parade, Landon See portrayed the Grinch on the float created by Bakersfield High School’s junior class. The float won second place.

Thanksgiving is over, and Christmas is coming right up. Area organizations and businesses are planning a variety of Christmas-themed events throughout the month, and two Christmas light displays are up and ready for visitors. 

To have your Christmas event added to the list, call the Ozark County Times at 417-679-4641 or email


Friday, Dec. 6

Christmas bazaar at The Fountain Church

The Fountain Church, on Highway 160 across from Cash Saver Pantry in Theodosia, will host a Christmas Bazaar from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6. The event will feature Christmas decor, gifts, baked goods, crafts and more. 


Gainesville’s second annual Ugly Sweater Day 

The second annual Gainesville Ugly Christmas Sweater Day will be observed Friday, Dec. 5. Organizers say there are no rules, “just use good taste.” No prizes will be awarded; the event is just about the fun of everyone getting dressed up. Participants can wear any “ugly” Christmas attire, not just sweaters. 


Gainesville’s Wonders of Christmas

Gainesville’s Wonders of Christmas event will be held Friday evening, Dec. 6, on the Gainesville square.

Booths and businesses: Craft, food and game vendors are welcome to set up on the square free of charge. Booths can operate from the beginning of the festival at 6 p.m. until the end of the event. This year’s lineup of booths features a wide variety of dinner options and sweet treats, along with booths selling crafts, clothing, art, cooking utensils and more. Booth operators are asked to contact and confirm their space before the festival by calling Pearl Schneider at 417-679-0388.

Several Gainesville businesses are also planning to be open extended hours during the Wonders of Christmas festival, including Molly’s Salon and Boutique, Ozark Wifi, the Christmas Corner/House of Angels, United Country Missouri Ozarks Realty and Edge Vinyl Designs.

The Ozark County Historium will also be open during the festival to host a children’s paper snowflake-cutting and old-fashioned ornament- making station and to serve a fundraiser soup and chili supper for a minimum $5 donation. Tables and chairs will be available for diners.

Mr. and Miss Merry Christmas contest: The Mr. and Miss Merry Christmas contest, open to 4- and 5-year-old children, is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday evening. At the event, contest organizer Kerrie Zubrod asks contestants four or five “gentle questions,” such as whether the child has a pet, siblings, what their favorite color is or what their favorite Christmas food is. After the child has answered the questions, Zubrod will ask the child if they want to do anything special including singing a song, dancing or other fun performance. 

Jingle Bell parade: The Jingle Bell parade steps off at 7 p.m. from the Town & Country Supermarket’s back parking lot and circles the Gainesville square. Parade organizer Paula Rose said that, at last count, the parade lineup includes 14 floats, about 20 other businesses or community organizations participating in other ways and the usual participating bands, firetrucks, ambulance and more. Rose estimates around 40 different entries will appear in the parade. This year’s Jingle Bell parade marshal is Karen Brantingham of Gainesville (see story, this page).

Cash prizes will be awarded to winning floats. The top float will be named the Shelter Insurance Douglas Hawkins Spirit of Christmas grand prize winner and will take home the coveted $150 prize. Other cash prizes are $100 for first place, $75 for second and $50 for third. 

Floats are asked to line up behind Town & Country at 6:30 p.m. Those planning on participating in the parade with a float or other entry are asked to contact and confirm with Rose at 417-989-1282.

After the parade: The Gainesville Elementary School choir will perform Christmas songs on the main stage after the parade. Ozarks Wifi will announce the winners of its bicycle drawing at 8 p.m. on the main stage (see photo, page 3). The Christmas tree will be illuminated, and Santa Claus is expected to make an appearance to visit with children there. Parents are encouraged to take their own photos of the kids with Santa. 


Saturday, Dec. 7

Bakersfield’s ‘Christmas movie’ festival and parade

This year’s Bakersfield Christmas festival, to be held Saturday, Dec. 7, will have “Christmas movies” as its theme. 

Breakfast with Santa: The day will start with Breakfast with Santa, to be held from 9 to 11 a.m. in the Bakersfield School cafeteria. Families are encouraged to bring their own cameras for photos. It’s hoped the elementary school choir will perform for the breakfast.

Christmas parade: The parade will line up at 11 a.m. by the high school gym, and judging of floats will probably be done around 11:30 a.m., according to festival-planning committee member Dianna Stover. Prizes haven’t been finalized yet, she said, but “they’ll be bigger than last year” and will be awarded to the first-, second- and third-place floats, a school-affiliated float and the best costumed or decorated horse.

Celebrity youth contests: High school-aged Mr. and Miss Merry Christmas, middle school-aged Mr. and Miss Snowflake and elementary school aged Little Mr. and Miss Merry Christmas will be recognized. The celebrity contest winners are chosen at Bakersfield School before the festival. 


Theodosia United Methodist Church 

Christmas bazaar

The Theodosia United Methodist Church will hold its annual Christmas Bazaar from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, at the church on Highway 160 in Theodosia. The event will feature handmade crafts, soup, baked goods, candy, bread, cookies, table runners, decor and ornaments for sale, as well as a regifting table.


First Christian Church 

Christmas brunch

The ladies of the First Christian Church of Gainesville will host a Christmas brunch at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, at the church on Highway 160 east of the Gainesville square. The theme this year is modeled around the old-fashioned Christmas book The Christmas Pageant. All area women are invited to attend. 


Santa Mini photo sessions

Paige Marie Photography and Shelbie Everett Photography are partnering with Options Pregnancy to offer a Santa mini photo shoot for area families. Options Pregnancy is a service that supports mothers of unplanned pregnancies through its centers in Gainesville and Ava. The photo shoot will take place at Options Pregnancy’s Ava office at 131 E. Lincoln Ave. 

Parents are asked to donate either a toy valued at $5 or more, or $5 in cash for each child in the photo. All of the proceeds and toys will be donated to an area toy drive that provides gifts for children who are served by the Missouri State Children’s Division in the 44th Circuit. Parents will receive up to three edited digital photos, a print release and a goodie bag from Santa after the shoot.

Parents are asked to make an appointment to guarantee a spot by calling or texting Paige at 417-250-9345 or messaging the Paige Marie Photography page on Facebook. Walk-in appointments may also be accepted throughout the day as slots are available.


Monday, Dec. 9

Masonic Lodge Christmas dinner

An open house Christmas dinner will be hosted at the Robert Burns Masonic Lodge, on Second Street in Gainesville, at 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 9. The dinner is free, and everyone is invited. The event is hosted by the Masons, along with the Order of Eastern Star. Guests can tour the building and are encouraged to learn more about freemasonry, Eastern Star, Scottish Rite, York Rite and the Shriners. 


Friday, Dec. 13

GHCC Silver Tea

The Gainesville Health Care Center will host its annual Ladies Silver Tea at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13, at the facility off Highway 5 south/160 west of the Gainesville business area. All area women are invited to join the GHCC staff and residents for homemade holiday treats, coffee and tea, all served from traditional silver tea sets. Stories, holiday traditions, singing and door prizes are planned for the event.


Rockbridge storytime with Santa

Storytime with Santa will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13, at Rockbridge Rainbow Trout Ranch in Rockbridge. Children will be able to visit with Santa, enjoy a Christmas story, decorate Christmas cookies and enjoy cookies with hot cocoa or milk. Reservations are required, and space is limited. For more information or to reserve a spot, call 417-679-3619.


Family Christmas party

at the Antler

Antler Pizza and Restaurant will host an Ozark County Family Christmas Party at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13. Guests can enjoy free hot chocolate and cookies while listening to Christmas music on the restaurant’s DJ/karaoke system. Children will have a chance to win toys and prizes 


Saturday, Dec. 14

Ozark County Toy Drive

The Ozark County Toy Drive will be held Saturday, Dec. 14, in the old senior center on Third Street in Gainesville. The gift-give-away, which operates completely with community donations and volunteers, is open to all parents who can show “some kind of something” that proves they live in Ozark County, chairperson Nancy Walker said. 

The toy drive distributes children’s gifts, treats and clothing items to parents for their children. Admission into the toy drive is by number, with doors opening at 9 a.m. The numbers will be handed out by a volunteer beginning around 7 a.m. Saturday. At that time, First Baptist Church, located across the street, will be open to offer parents coffee, hot chocolate and restrooms. 

Walker says parents are not allowed to wait in line overnight but may begin lining up as early as 6 a.m. 

Most years, gifts are distributed for more than 400 children during the toy drive. A small army of volunteers works hard to make that generosity possible. It’s a huge operation, one that depends completely on volunteer efforts and cash donations. 

To help, make checks payable to Ozark County Toy Drive and mail to Nancy Walker, 378 Harlin Drive, Gainesville, MO 65655.


Breakfast with Santa at Rockbridge

Breakfast with Santa will be held at Rockbridge Rainbow Trout Ranch in Rockbridge from 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 14. The breakfast will feature reindeer pancakes, along with a visit from Santa and holiday crafts. Reservations are required. For more information or to reserve a spot, call 417-679-3619.


Christmas Cantata performance 

at Clear Springs Church

The Ozark County Community Choir will perform its annual Christmas cantata – this year, “Prince of Heaven” by Travis Cottrell – at the Clear Springs Baptist Church, located at PP Highway and County Road 318 near Dawt, at 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14. Refreshments will be served after the program. 


Rocky Top Christmas open house

Rocky Top Campground and Cabins, on Highway 160 near the top of the Tecumseh curves, will host an open house from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, in the resort’s community room. The event will feature hot chocolate, coffee and hot apple cider, along with “lots of cookies and candy,” say owners Joe and Diane Easterday. The event is free and open to everyone; cash donations will be accepted for the Ozark County Food Pantry.


Sunday, Dec. 15

Christmas Cantata performance 

at First Baptist Church in Gainesville

The Ozark County Community Choir will perform its annual Christmas cantata – this year “Prince of Heaven” by Travis Cottrell – at Gainesville First Baptist Church on Second Street at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14. Refreshments will be served after the program. 


Wednesday, Dec. 25

VFW community Christmas Dinner

VFW Post #5366 in Isabella, with the help of the local AmVets chapter, will serve its annual free community Christmas dinner at noon Dec. 25 at the VFW hall on HH Highway in Isabella. Facility manager Ruby Winslow said everyone is invited – veterans and non-veterans alike. If advance arrangements are made, meals can also be delivered to nearby residents who are unable to attend, or meals can be prepared for pickup. 

Donations of cash and food are needed and welcome. Winslow said the VFW greatly appreciates those who are able to cook an extra dish - salads, sides and desserts - and deliver it to the facility on Dec. 24. The VFW also welcomes donations of a turkey or ham three days ahead of time to be cooked by the VFW staff and volunteers. 

Call 273-5008 for more information, to let the staff know what food you can donate, or to arrange home delivery or pickup. To send a tax-deductible cash donation, make checks payable to Isabella VFW Post 5366 and mail to P.O. Box 323, Isabella, MO 65676. 



Ongoing light displays

Rocky Top 

Rocky Top Campground and Cabins in Tecumseh invites area residents to enjoy its elaborate Christmas light drive-through display that includes 40 large, lighted inflatables and thousands of lights crisscrossing the display area and wrapped around trees. This year Rocky Top has added a new attraction, a “tree of lights.” The drive-through display, which is free and open to everyone, continues through Jan.1. 


Erisman’s Holiday Acres

Erisman’s Holiday Acres, located on County Road 1082 in Midway, Arkansas, is a 5-acre light display that has been growing and expanding over its 20-year history. It can be viewed from a vehicle through a looped roadway, and it’s free of charge, but donations are gratefully accepted to help with costs to expand the display and pay for electricity. The light display is open from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and from 5 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. 

Organizers say recent windy and cold weather has caused a delay in setting up all the lights, and currently around 70 percent of the lights are operating. However, the full display is expected to be operating by Friday, Dec. 13.

Search for Erisman’s Holiday Acres on Facebook for more information or to view updates throughout the season.

Ozark County Times

504 Third Steet
PO Box 188
Gainesville, MO 65655

Phone: (417) 679-4641
Fax: (417) 679-3423