Two festivals originally set for this weekend have been canceled, but four others will offer entertainment options in coming days.
First up is the Holiday Stroll, set for Thursday in Dayton, Tennessee. Shops in the historic downtown will be decorated for the holidays and stay open extended hours. Local musicians will perform, and Santa will mix and mingle on Market Street. The lighting of the Christmas tree on the lawn of the Rhea County Courthouse will take place at 6 p.m.
On Saturday, the Sunflower Craft & Vendor Show will be set up at the Catoosa County Amphitheater in Ringgold, Georgia. Organizer Kim Krause of K&S Hospitality Events said 70 vendors are booked for the outdoor show, and there will be face painting, sack races and three-legged races for kids.
Visitors should bring an appetite — and not just for concessions. "We've added pie eating and hot dog eating contests," Krause said.
With many events dropping off the schedule this year because of coronavirus concerns, Krause said she has expanded her normal number of festivals. She added this show because of vendor interest, along with two more next month. The Country Time Christmas Holiday Market will be Dec. 5 at Gateway Mall in Ringgold and the Northgate Mall Christmas Market will be a week long, Dec. 12-18, inside a vacant store at the shopping mall in Hixson.
Many craft and specialty vendors rely on the fall circuit of shows to make a living, Krause said, so the spate of coronavirus cancellations has taken a toll on their bottom line. Only about a third of the festivals featured in the Times Free Press' Fall Festival Guide, published annually on Labor Day weekend, were scheduled this year compared to previous years.
Krause said the search for work has led to interest from vendors traveling greater distances for her shows.
"I've got one lady coming this weekend all the way from Murfreesboro [Tennessee] and a face painter is coming from Murphy, North Carolina," she said.
Among the eventual cancellations this season were the Christmas Market at Jones Memorial United Methodist Church in East Ridge, which would have been Saturday, and the Mistletoe Market, which the Mountain Regional Arts & Crafts Guild planned to present the next two weekends at North Georgia Technical College in Blairsville.
The Christmas Market at Jones Memorial is a fundraiser for the church's children's ministry.
"We hope to be back to normal next year," said Teena Broom, the church's administrative and communications specialist. "We're trying to be safe."
In addition to church leaders' unease, the church's governing body, the Holston Conference, has not lifted restrictions on large gatherings, she said.
"We held off [canceling] as long as we could, but we were trying to give vendors a chance to find another fair if they couldn't sell here," she said.
For festivalgoers looking for a Christmas experience, Stone Mountain Park near Atlanta will power up millions of twinkling lights on Saturday to herald in the holiday season. Visitors can enjoy the park's regular slate of attractions, including a sky ride and scenic railroad, during daylight hours. As dusk nears, Stone Mountain Christmas events commence, including a musical laser light show, tree lighting ceremony with a sleigh flight by Santa, and a parade led by Angelina the Snow Angel, who can conjure a snowfall.
Stone Mountain Christmas activities will be offered Saturdays and Sundays through early January, plus Fridays in December and the entire weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas (except Christmas Day).
On Wednesday, the Chattanooga Audubon Society will begin Walker Farm Pioneer Days, an immersion in 1800s history at Audubon Acres in East Brainerd. This year's event will be smaller than in previous years and have timed entry for guests. Masks are required.
The hands-on, living history event is geared for elementary-age students and their families. Visitors will move through different historical demonstrations that showcase period skills or jobs, such as Dutch oven cooking, butter churning and corn shucking. Reservations are required for all attendees. The three-day festival continues through Nov. 20.
Email Lisa Denton at email@example.com.
AT A GLANCE
* Holiday Stroll: Downtown Dayton, Tenn. Merchants and eateries along Market and connecting streets will offer discounts and extended hours, 5-8 p.m. mainstreetdayton.org
* Sunflower Craft & Vendor Show: Catoosa County Amphitheater, 220 Catoosa Circle, Ringgold, Ga. Seventy vendors, children's activities, pie and hot dog eating contests, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Free admission. knscraftshow.com
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* Stone Mountain Christmas: Stone Mountain Park, 1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd., Stone Mountain, Ga. Nightly snow parade, tree lighting ceremony, Santa sleigh flight, open weekends plus Thanksgiving and Christmas weeks (closed Christmas Day). Admission fees. https://www.stonemountainpark.com
* Walker Farm Pioneer Days: Audubon Acres, 900 N. Sanctuary Road. Heritage celebration with hands-on demonstrations of pioneer skills, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. (by timed entry). $7.50 ages 4 and older. https://www.chattanoogaaudubon.org/pioneerdays.html