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Have Yourself a Very Merry Southwest Alabama Getaway

Located in the lush pine forests of Southwest Alabama, Bay Minette’s natural beauty, community events, and historical significance make it a great destination when planning a fall getaway. History and outdoor enthusiasts will find ample opportunities to learn about the area's rich history and explore nature at it's finest at locations like Fort Mims, Ghost Fleet, and Live Oak Landing all located in the heart of the Tensaw River Delta. 


The Christmas Festival in Bay Minette has provided Christmas cheer and activities for thousands of people since its inception 35 years ago, and it will take place December 8-9. Attendees will encounter a family friendly Christmas celebration complete with vendors, tree lighting, a parade, and more. This year's event includes more than 100 vendors selling everything from one-of-a-kind art to holiday-themed artisan foods. The Annual Christmas Parade features a variety of vibrantly decorated floats as well as live music, treats, and more. Families can take the opportunity to meet and take pictures with Santa, as well as watch the lighting of the town Christmas tree. Auto enthusiasts can check out the Antique Car Display which features some beautifully preserved, restored, and customized automobiles. Local and regional musicians and entertainers (such as Modern EL Dorados) will perform on the main stage throughout the event. We interviewed Kristina Angelone, the Special Projects & Operations Coordinator for the North Baldwin Chamber of Commerce to learn more about this unique holiday experience.


RAL: How long has the event been running?

KA: This is our 35th annual event.


RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?

KA: We average about 100 vendors, and a majority of them come from outside of the area.


RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?

KA: This is a family-friendly event. We have activities and entertainment for all ages.


RAL: What makes this event unique?

KA: There is a "Mayberry" type charm to this event. It was originally held on the grounds of the courthouse square, but due to the event's popularity and growth, it moved a block south to Blackburn Park to accommodate a larger crowd. The park is home to a charming gazebo and memorials to the Blackburn and Pimperl family. On the grounds, there is a "Little White House," as it is known, that magically transforms into a home for "Pictures with Santa."


RAL: Take me through a day at the event. What can I expect as an attendee?

KA: The event opens to the public at 10:00 am on Friday. Stage performances start at 3:00 pm. All the excitement begins to accelerate in the late afternoon as people arrive for dinner at some of our diverse food vendors. The ever-reliable and oh-so-good smelling BBQ from the Methodist Men's Club (that have participated in the show almost since its inception 35 years ago) can be smelled throughout the park. The crowd starts to mill around the center of the show on the corner of Hoyle & 1st Street as everyone eagerly awaits Santa's arrival via fire truck. After that, we have the traditional tree lighting ceremony, and awards for art contest entries.


After all that excitement, the bucket fire truck is raised, and 500 ping pong balls are thrown out into a sea of people, 100 of which are numbered. Participants can only redeem them for a door prize when they return to the festival the next day. Prizes range from TV's to amusement park passes, and there's something for everyone. At 6:30 pm, a well known local musical group (The Modern EL Dorados) takes the stage for a lively concert. The day starts again at 8:00 am on Saturday with local stage talent and continues until the parade rolls at 1:30 pm. With over 65 floats in the parade, the streets become alive with music, candy, and costumes. The day closes out with awards for 1st, 2nd & 3rd prizes for the best floats.


RAL: What can an attendee expect to find for local lodging?

KA: There are several accommodations in the area. In town, we work with The Log Cabin Inn & Windwood Inn. Wind Creek Hotel and Casino (25 miles north of town) also accommodates area guests with extensive amenities. We have a B&B called the Lavender House here in town, and there are several RV parks by the river including:

RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?

KA: Crowd attendance is at between 4,000-6,000 depending on the weather because this is an outdoor event.


RAL: Does the event support a particular cause in the community?

KA: The North Baldwin Chamber of Commerce hosts the event, a local nonprofit which supports the businesses and residents of the North Baldwin area. It makes yearly contributions to a variety of causes, scholarships, events, and business education programs.


RAL: Why should people come to your event?

KA: Bay Minette is a charming, nostalgic town that serves as the county seat in Baldwin and it comes alive with a unique charm for Christmas Fest. It is a time-honored tradition enjoyed by the residents and makes the area a holiday destination.

For more information about the Christmas Festival, please visit the event website.