IDA — The 40th-anniversary of Christmas in Ida will take place Friday and Saturday in downtown Ida. A closing concert is planned for Sunday.
The weekend festival features national entertainment, craft and vendor shows, children’s activities and the largest parade of lights in the Midwest, organizers said.
Music will be offered for three days.
The concert series kicks off the festival at 7 p.m. Friday with the Commemorative Concert featuring the Eastern Michigan University Choir, under the direction of Brandon Johnson. The choir will perform choral art and Christmas music. The concert is presented by state Sen. Dale Zorn, state Rep. Joe Bellino, Rep.-elect William Bruck, Rep.-elect Jim DeSana and Dale Biniecki at the Ida United Methodist Church.
Country music act Diamond Rio will perform at 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3. Admission is free. The concert is part of the La-Z-Boy Family Concert Series presented by Mejier Inc. Diamond Rio is known for platinum hits like “Meet in the Middle,” “One More Day” and “Beautiful Mess.” Lyn and Marco from K100 radio will introduce the band.
The Young Country Concert at 3:45 p.m. Saturday and is an opener for the Diamond Rio concert and features “American Idol” finalist Laci Kaye Booth presented by Monroe Dodge Chrysler Jeep Superstore. A public meet-and-greet and autograph signing will follow. Saturday concerts are held on stage in the Ida Township parking lot.
“The La-Z-Boy Christmas in Ida Concert Series continues to present wholesome family entertainment and best of all, it’s all free,” Zorn, festival executive director, said.
The Ida Public Schools Christmas Collage Concert will bring the festival to a close at 2 p.m. Sunday. Band performances will be offered by students in fifth through grades.
Friday events include the Holiday Sled Race at 7:15 p.m. under stadium light on Lewis Avenue. The race is presented by Directions Credit Union and hosted by Monroe County Bed Race to Aid Children Inc. A prerace show of high-energy dance will kick off the race featuring Anita’s Dance Center of Wisconsin.
Also on Friday, a robot demonstration will be offered by the Bedford Express Robotics. The Ida Christmas Mall and the Ida High School Junior Class benefit auction will begin at 8:20 pm. Friday.
Artists of the Holiday Arts on the Avenue, presented by Family Medical Center of Michigan, will display the painted holiday art on canvas starting on Friday. This year’s theme is “Perfect Christmas.” Works will be on display in the Partner Tent.
A special anniversary event, the Agriculture Heritage Exhibit, will open Friday and will feature an outdoor agriculture museum with illuminated farm implements and displays. The show is presented by STAR Towing and Recovery and hosted by the Southeast Antique Tractor and Small Engine Association.
A large craft and vendor show opens at 6 p.m. Friday night and runs all day Saturday at IHS and Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. More than 230 crafters and vendors will display.
The show is presented by the Mall of Monroe and Knabusch Insurance Service.
“The Ida Christmas Mall is a unique shopping destination for the whole family and is presented by Bakers Propane and Welding Supplies/Ace Hardware,” festival organizers said. “Items featured at the craft and vendor shows include crafts, quilts, stained glass, floral, woodworking, furniture and home merchandise.” The Christmas in Ida executive board will host a welcome and information center in the Partners Tent.
Saturday entertainment begins at noon with a performance by the Peg Harris Dance Studio followed by the Lighthouse Dance Company; Miss Monroe County Payton Perry-Radcliffe; Miss Monroe County Outstanding Teen MaKayla Dickinson; Junior Miss Monroe County Princess MaKayla Dickinson; Little Miss Monroe County Princess Sophia Adams and Tiny Miss Monroe County Princess Elliette Blanchett.
The Monroe Family YMCA will host the Flurries for the Kids Family Show presented by ProMedica Monroe Regional Hospital. The interactive show is for children of all ages and will feature music, movement, games and prizes.
The 2022 festival Prince and Princess candidates are: Ida High School Student Council representatives Grantham Nelson and Ashley Burger; Vincent Morelli and Abby Darr from the IHS Band; Xander Brown and Mia Karl for the Ida Key Club; and Reid Benware and Kylie Greiser for the IHS National Honor Society. The Prince and Princess will be introduced by Miss Monroe County Payton Perry-Radcliffe and crowned by Santa Claus during the afternoon entertainment.
The arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus will kick off the Saturday events. The Ida Volunteer Fire Department will escort Santa and Mrs. Claus on a tour through downtown Ida, ending at the IHS Craft Show, where Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves will greet children. The Miss Monroe County pageant contestants will assist Santa as his elves.
Horse-drawn carriage rides through Ida will be offered free on Lewis Avenue by Gerdau offered free.
West Ida Immanuel Lutheran Church will host a community food pantry collection, and the Team Ambassador 4-H Club will host a coat collection at IHS.
A make-and-take area will allow children to make their own free Christmas ornament with a Christmas in Ida logo.
Santa’s Zoo will feature farm and exotic animals and is presented by Generators Plus and hosted by Dukes Petting Farm. Other downtown events include ice sculpting and chainsaw art by Rick Galimberti presented by Allen Chevrolet-Cadillac.
The Ida Branch Library will host Christmas Stories with Mrs. Claus and continues a festival tradition of offering free collector commemorative festival badges.
The mid-afternoon Holiday Hounds on Parade, presented by Holcim, will feature dogs dressed in their holiday finest for a walk on Lewis Avenue. More than 100 dogs with their owners will stroll down Lewis Avenue. Judging will be the Monroe County District Judge Michael C. Brown, Sheriff Troy Goodnough and Connie Carroll, retired executive director of the Monroe/Lenawee County United Way.
Holiday Photos with Pets will take place at the Ida United Methodist Church and is sponsored by Project Second Chance.
Chicken Bowling will be offered by Village Wealth Management and hosted by Adrian College Acrobatics and Tumbling. A Family Video Arcade will be presented by Key Bank. The Lynn C. Weeman Post of the American Legion will continue the long tradition of serving a free children’s lunch with Santa.
Kicking off the evening festivities is the Family Christmas Fireworks Show, presented by Consumers Energy.
The Light Up the Night Fun Run, hosted by the Ida Links, will start at the Ida schools and follow the parade route. All runners must be illuminated.
The Christmas in Ida Parade of Lights, presented by DTE Energy, will start at 7 p.m. and include more than 120 illuminated and animated parade units as well as high school bands, floats, fire trucks, parade balloons, marching groups and farm implements.
The preparade show will be performed and filmed at the television stage on Lewis Avenue and will feature Anita’s Dance Company of Muskego, Wisconsin, performing a high-energy holiday dance performance.
Marissa Pierce, member of the National and World Baton Champion Team USA, will perform a baton show.
The Parade of Lights will be livestreamed at www.youtube.com/user/MPACTStudio. It will be shown throughout the holiday season, starting at 7 p.m. Dec. 12 on public access channels on D & P Communications, MPACT/Charter Communications, Comcast and Buckeye Broadband.
Food vendors will be located throughout the village featuring American, Italian, German, Mexican and barbecued food. Local organizations serving food are the Ida Band Boosters, which will serve at the Ida Public Schools, and Ida United Methodist Church, which will serve hot sandwiches throughout the day.
The Christmas in Ida festival was founded by the Ida Civic Club and sponsored by businesses and service organizations.
For more information, visit www.christmasinida.com.
This article originally appeared on The Monroe News: 40th Christmas in Ida festival this weekend