Nativity festival brings community together

The Corvallis Nativity Festival is a five-day event featuring live music and more than 500 nativities on display for the community to view and appreciate.

In our hurry to prepare for a wonderful holiday season, many of us often want to pause and reflect on what really matters during this time of year.

The 25th annual Corvallis Nativity Festival is an opportunity to recharge your spirit and add joyful meaning to the Christmas season.

The community festival, which runs Nov. 30 to Dec. 4, has grown from a small beginning to an event that includes more than 500 nativities displayed in beautifully-designed and artistically-crafted settings, says director Michelle Hunter.

It represents a wide range of religious affiliations, ages and interests, and the contributions and expertise have helped the event become a reflection of the community coming together to honor the birth and life of Jesus Christ.

“This year’s Nativity Festival gives voice to the beloved Christmas carol, ‘Joy to the Word,’ as we experience the unique beauty of nativities from around the world,” Hunter says.

The event is hosted by Corvallis members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who wanted to include “anyone who wants to contribute in some way,” she says. “Many church congregations, individuals and city organizations are involved in the various aspects of coordinating the tremendous effort needed to present the festival each year.”

From decorating the building and planning for musical presentations, to making sure all the nativity sets are safely returned to their owners, preparing for the event is usually a yearlong process.

A new theme is chosen each year and visitors know there will always be something new to see — even if some nativity sets are the same, they will always be displayed in a unique and different display, Hunter says.

The festival also includes musical performances. Heart of the Valley Children’s Choir is a perennial favorite, as well as the Linn-Benton Community College Chamber Choir.

“We’re having a lot of the same great performers back again this year, and there will be something for everyone to enjoy,” says music director Janeil Olsen.

Assistant music director Mickey Herrin has invited the Hatch Family, a group of her relatives traveling to Oregon from Idaho and Utah, to share their musical talents.

“The Nativity Festival builds and strengthens relationships in the surrounding community by celebrating the birth of Christ,” says Pamela Richardson, who joins Hunter and Britni LeFevre as festival directors. “It is the shared love for our Savior Jesus Christ that helps us see all that we truly have in common.”

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