Ste. Genevieve’s Holiday Christmas Festival — one of the largest such celebrations in Missouri — will take place this year … with some modifications to address COVID-19.
The event returns for its 36th year with the ever-popular parade on Saturday, December 5, and more than a dozen concerts taking place over the two days.
Masks will be required at all indoor concerts and lectures per request of the musicians and speakers. Masks also will be required at the Lions Park Spectacular, where children can have their photographs with Santa and Mrs. Claus taken under social-distancing guidelines.
Event organizer Annette Rolfe said the many musicians who offer entertainment annually at the event looked forward to coming back this year.
“Everyone is really on-board,” Rolfe said. “All they want is the precautions. If we follow the rules, we can make this work.”
Rolfe emphasizes that the Ste. Genevieve County Health Department strongly suggests wearing a mask at public venues.
Parade participants will be allowed to throw candy as they usually do, though masks and gloves are being encouraged for those who do.
The parade route from the Valle Catholic Desert to Third Street to Market to Main to Washington to Second to Merchant and back to the desert is long enough to encourage social distancing for parade-watchers. It will kick off the festival at 11 a.m.
The Lions Park Spectacular beginning at noon will include hot chocolate, hot dogs and chili in addition to free photos with Santa. Children eat free when accompanied by an adult. Music will be provided by Vernon Flieg, the first of many musical performances on the weekend.
Christmas crafts for children will be offered by Ste. Genevieve artist Diane Wilson beginning at noon at the Orris Theatre. Masks will be required and social distancing will be observed.
The indoor music venues also will observe social distancing with seating limitations.
The musical performances on Saturday afternoon feature an acclaimed group of performers, Concerts will be given by the Joyful Sound Ringers handbell choir, Southeast Missouri State University professor Matt Palisch on the pipe organ at the Church of Ste. Genevieve, the Southeast Missouri String Quartet, the Isaac Lausell Trio, Adele Martin and Bluesette, saxophonist Gerry Huggins and guitarist Stormy Bennett. In addition to the Catholic Church, venues include Holy Cross Lutheran Church, the First Presbyterian Church, the Orris, and the Jean-Baptiste Valle House, which serves as the headquarters for the newly established Ste. Genevieve National Historical Park.
Huggins will play at the 18th-century Jean-Baptiste Valle House on Saturday, as will Martin and Bluesette.
Martin was born in Belgium and now lives in Illinois. She bills her sounds as French cafe music. “You’ll feel like you’re on the Left Bank [of Paris],” Rolfe said.
Bennett, from Ste. Genevieve, has played gospel and patriotic music at events and shows throughout the region.
In addition to the concerts, French Colonial America director Geoff Giglierano will portray a French priest in a program exploring the importance of faith in colonial communities.
The Guibourd-Valle House, owned and operated by the Foundation for Restoration, will host an open house Saturday evening from 4 to 6 p.m. with colonial decorations and live music.
At the same time, Music Art Love will feature live music by Academy Hill.
All of that activity Saturday leads into the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at 6 p.m. outside the Welcome Center. Gary Scheel will emcee the event. Les Chanteurs Francais with Bill and Patti Naeger will perform, along with the Ste. Genevieve High School Madrigal Choir.
The First Presbyterian Church will host its Live Nativity scene beginning at 6 p.m., and carols will be sung outside the church.
Sunday’s schedule includes afternoon concerts by violinist Megan Heithaus, Lausell on guitar and renowned harpist Amy Camie leading up to the 4 p.m. finale featuring the Ste. Genevieve Muncipal Band Wind Ensemble in the Church of Ste. Genevieve.
Lausell, who teaches at the Southern Illinois University School of Music in Carbondale, has been a festival mainstay. He teams with professor Jimmy Beers and Dr. Richard Kelly for the modern jazz trio on Saturday and then performs selections spanning 500 years of French, Italian, Spanish and American music with his classical guitar performance on Sunday.
Heithaus, who has been part of the event for 13 years, performs in the string quartet on Saturday afternoon and then provides the music at the Guibourd-Valle on Saturday night before returning to play solo on Sunday afternoon.
Camie is new to the Holiday Christmas Festival. She is a certified clinical musician and spiritual harpist who will weave together holiday favorites in a seamless tapestry that wraps you in the spirit of Christmas.
Following her 3 p.m. performance in the Church of Ste. Genevieve, the municipal band’s wind ensemble will perform a concert of traditional Christmas music that also will get listeners into the Christmas spirit.
Also on the weekend, the Ste. Genevieve Art Guild will have its Christmas show in its new building on the Courthouse Square and the new Museum Learning Center will have Christmas displays in its courtyard.
“My goal is that people feel safe,” Rolfe said. “Even in this time, we want to have a magical place that people can come to and have a wonderful experience.”
For more information on the event, go to www.visitstegen.com.
Saturday, December 5
— FREE Christmas Parade, Ste. Genevieve Historic District.
— Lions Park Spectacular, FREE pictures with Santa (Masks Required), Market Street. Hot chocolate, hotdogs, and chili. Kids under 12 eat FREE, when accompanied by an adult. FREE Vernon Flieg performs traditional country, rock and Christmas tunes.
— FREE Christmas Crafts for Children by Diane Wilson (Masks Required) at the ORRIS, 265 Merchant Street, ENDS AT 2:00 p.m.
1 to 1:45 p.m.
— FREE pipe organ concert, and Joyful Sound Ringers directed by Matt Palisch, Professor of Organ for SEMO State University and Director of Music for St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Jackson, MO. The Joyful Sound Ringers perform both at St. Paul’s worship service and also special concerts and workshops associated with the hand bell association of St. Louis. Program includes Christmas carols by the ringers and organ solos at the Ste. Genevieve Catholic Church, 49 DuBourg Place. ONE CONCERT ONLY.
— FREE Southeast Missouri String Quartet concert performed by accredited directors, teachers and symphony performers at the Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 200 Market Street, featuring Baroque, Classical, and Romantic period Austro-German music.
— FREE The Isaac Lausell Trio, modern jazz with standards in Latin music featuring award winning Dr. Isaac Lausell from SIU School of Music, Carbondale, Professor Jimmy Beers, and Dr. Richard Kelly, at the First Presbyterian Church, 160 S. Main Street.
— FREE Authentic French Café music, jazz, soul, blues, and Christmas tunes. Performed by Adele Martin and Bluesette at the Historic Jean-Baptiste Valle House, 99 S. Main Street.
2 to 2:45 p.m.
— Repeat of above concerts: String Quartet, Isaac Lausell Trio, and Adele Martin and Bluesette.
— FREE Matt Palisch, Professor of Organ for SEMO State University and Director of Music for St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Jackson, MO will perform a solo pipe organ concert featuring multiple genres of music from Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Impressionistic to 20th and 21st Century Christmas tunes at the Ste. Genevieve Catholic Church, 49 DuBourg Place. ONE CONCERT ONLY
— FREE French Colonial American Executive Director Geoff Giglierano portrays Pere Sebastian Louis Meurin in a “First Person” program that explores the importance of faith in 18th century French Colonial communities of upper Louisiana and the intersection of European and Native American spirituality, at DuBourg Centre, 305 Merchant Street. ONE LECTURE ONLY.
3 to 3:45 p.m.
— FREE saxophone solo performance by Gerry Huggins, featuring contemporary, smooth jazz, and holiday music at the Jean-Baptiste Valle House, 99 S. Main Street.
— FREE acoustic guitar concert performed by Stormy Bennett specializing in thumb rhythm and melody at the ORRIS, 265 Merchant Street.
4 to 4:45 p.m.
— Repeat of above concerts: acoustic guitar and saxophone.
4 to 6 p.m.
— FREE Guibourd House hosts an open house at Fourth and Merchant Street featuring a display of Colonial Christmas decorations. Baroque period solo violin performance by Megan Heithaus. ENDS AT 6 p.m.
— FREE Blue Grass music performed by Academy Hill at Music Art Love, 199 N. Main Street. ENDS AT 6 p.m.
— FREE Community Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, at the Welcome Center, 66 S. Main Street, featuring Santa and Mrs. Claus. Performances by Les Chanteurs Francais with Bill & Patti Naeger, SGHS Madrigal Choir, and hosted by Gary Scheel.
— FREE Live Bethlehem Nativity Scene, First Presbyterian Church, 160 S. Main Street. Christmas carols will be sung outside the church.
— Lynn, Jack, and Jen Trio performing pop standard’s from the 30’s to the 70’s, with a little country and Broadway at Audubon’s Grill and Bar, 9 N. Main Street.
Sunday, December 6
12:30 to 1:15 p.m.
— FREE violin solo performance, performed by Megan Heithaus, featuring Impressionistic period music, at the Welcome Center, 66 S. Main Street.
— FREE classical guitar concert performed by renowned artist Dr. Isaac Lausell, DMA, SIU School of Music, Carbondale, featuring 500 years of French, Italian, Spanish, and American music at the Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 200 Market Street.
1:30 to 2:15 p.m.
— Repeat of above concerts: Violin and Classical Guitar.
— FREE renowned artist Amy Camie performing unique solo harp interpretations in her program “Embracing the Spirit of Christmas” weaving together holiday favorites in a seamless tapestry that gently opens the heart and lovingly wraps you in the spirit of Christmas at the Ste. Genevieve Catholic Church, 49 DuBourg Place.
— FREE Ste. Genevieve Municipal Band Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Ste. Genevieve Catholic Church at 49 DuBourg Place.
Saturday and Sunday
— Ste. Genevieve Art Guild Christmas Show will be open at the historic “Museum” building, 310 Merchant Street. Saturday 10:00 am to 6:00 pm and Sunday 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
— The Ste. Genevieve Museum Learning Center will have Christmas displays in their Courtyard, 360 Market Street. 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
— Visit historic sites, museums, art galleries and shops.
MASKS REQUIRED AT ALL INDOOR CONCERTS AND LECTURES PER REQUESTS OF THE MUSICIANS AND SPEAKERS!
The Ste Genevieve County Health Department strongly suggests wearing a mask at public venues.