Belgrade Festival of Lights
I’ve been working with a very merry band of Belgrade folks to revitalize the town’s Festival of Lights this year. I mean all year – like since January. Christmas Past was done, and Christmas Yet to Come was a full twelve months away, and there we were gathering to talk and dream and pitch ideas about how grand it could be. Not a Scroogey word was spoken – every idea was validated in ink on the vision board. Committees were formed, hands shaken, names and numbers exchanged. It has been quite a wild dash since then, as we now find ourselves just a few, fleeting weeks away from December 9.
As the months have passed, my appreciation for Belgrade has grown. There is a strong undercurrent of small town pride that runs deep here, across all kinds of demographics. The forty-some volunteers who have gathered monthly for a year have full-time jobs and families to tend, yet here they are, updating the rest of us on all they’ve accomplished in their ‘spare time’. In addition to the committee leaders and their teams, contacts at the City of Belgrade, the Chamber of Commerce, and Belgrade High School stand ready to give guidance through the process and offer support where needed. Multiple businesses and local churches are planning their own unique ways to be part of the event. Every offer of help takes a load off someone else’s very full plate. As much as I love my fierce Montana independence, I admit, it will truly take us all to pull this thing off, and I am so grateful for every offer.
We are dreaming big this year. Not only are we remembering our favorite things of previous years, but we are making new things happen, too. When this Festival was in its hey-day, local churches offered hot drinks or soup and bread to chilly families in the evening – not to mention special activities, music and a book sale at the Library. We are hoping to see those traditions carried on. In addition, we are filling the Special Event Center with all kinds of activities during the day, including culinary contests, local vendors, and entertainment from all kinds of groups. There is also a 5K fun run, a pancake breakfast, and a special visit from Santa. In all, there will be Festival activities from morning ‘til night.
I have to admit though, many of those great ideas we pitched on Day 1 … have had to be pitched. There is just only so much time, people! And people – it takes people to put on a great event. Many hands really do make light work! Rest assured, that even though we don’t have wagon rides or beautiful floating lanterns, this year’s event will warm even the smallest heart. With the leadership of the Belgrade Community Coalition, we are laying the foundation for a sustainable event that can be expanded over the years. So plan on more to come – and come join the fun of putting it all together!
I don’t really know what draws each one to this effort. For myself, it is the idea that people from all walks of life could come together for the singular purpose of doing something lovely for our hometown. It’s the sweetest gift, to be part of this group, bringing what we have and offering it here. From Belgrade. To Belgrade. And in the heart of Belgrade, we will celebrate. I hope you plan on bringing the whole family and join your neighbors in lighting up the holidays with us. It will be a charming time to sing familiar carols, recognize prize winners, hear from the Mayor, and enjoy some refreshments.
As Christmas Yet to Come glides into the present, I can’t help but feel a little giddy. I think the quintessential heart of Belgrade beats a little faster, too. So many plans in the making, quickly coming to fruition, all designed to bring us together and light up our town. By the way, do you know why Thomas Quaw founded Belgrade? Because he found this place pleasing. I couldn’t agree more.
Find more info about this years Festival of Lights on our calendar and at bozemanmagazine.com/calendar.
Adryann Baldwin has been married to her supportive and entrepreneurial hubby for 28 years. They work hard together raising six kids to live by the credo ‘God first, family second, then everything else’. They make their home in beautiful Belgrade, MT.