ESCANABA - The U.P. Steam and Gas Engine Association's An Old-Fashioned Christmas in the Village is an annual tradition many in the area look forward to. Event coordinators say this year's event will be even better than before with a few new surprises in store.
The U.P. Steam & Gas Engine Association has been holding its Old Fashioned Christmas in the Village for around 25 years.
"Every year it's a little different and better," said Skip Dufour, president of the U.P. Steam and Gas Engine Association. "We're always upgrading the village, changing buildings, and getting different craftsman in there."
The event will take place at the U.P. State Fairgrounds today from 3-7 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is free. All that is asked of attendees is to bring donations of canned food or other non-perishable items to be donated to a local church and distributed to those in need in Delta County.
"Everything we collect goes to the Delta County area, so it helps people in our own area," said Dufour. "The more people we get, the more food we get, the happier everyone is. It's a way for the U.P. Steam & Gas Engine Association to give back to the community. That's the way we look at it."
As always, the Old Fashioned Christmas in the Village will offer a variety of activities for both the young and old to enjoy, including horse-drawn wagon rides which will be available on Saturday, a visit from Santa Claus, and Christmas goodies such as hot spiced cider, hot chocolate and popcorn balls.
A new activity this year are dog sled rides which will be available on both Friday and Saturday.
Parts of the village have been transformed and updated to make the event even more comfortable and enjoyable for visitors, said Dufour. There is a brand-new rock and gem shop, and all other shops will be made for people to walk in.
"We're making all the buildings walk-ins, so people can walk into a warm building and talk to the crafters while they demonstrate their craft, which is really great," he said.
While warming up, attendees can watch accomplished craftsman demonstrate a variety of traditional trades including blacksmithing, candle dipping, wood carving, spinning and loom weaving. Added to this year's repertoire will be a dazzling glass-blowing demonstration.
"We have a very accomplished glass blower from the Bonifas Fine Arts Center who has had her items displayed in the Smithsonian Museum," said Dufour.
Visitors to the village will also enjoy Christmas music and specialty hand-made craft items for sale. The Telegraph Museum will also be open with its display of antique radios, and short wave radio contacting.
"We'd like to get everyone out," said Dufour. "Bring the kids and have a good time."