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12th Annual Community Nativity Festival Planned

Thanksgiving Deadline to Contribute Set for Exhibit


The Community Nativity Festival will again be a prominent event of Mena’s Christmas festivities. It will feature a display of more than 300 family nativity sets – also called manger scenes, cribs (England), krippe (Germany), creches (France), presepio (Italy), nacimiento (Spain), szopka (Poland), and a host of other names around the world. Illustrating the stories of Jesus’ birth at Bethlehem, the sets include figures of the Holy Family, with various combinations of angels, shepherds, magi (wise men), local visitors, and attendant animals. Small family nativities like these have been a part of Christmas celebrations in private homes since the 1700’s.

Although a number major churches and museums around the world have permanent collections, the Mena display is a bit different, as it is neither permanent nor based on the collection of a single individual, church or institution. All the sets are lent by local families – of all denominations – who bring them in for a few days to share as a Christmas gift to their neighbors. It is an independent cooperative and volunteer effort, with lenders and workers from many different churches. Our oldest lenders have been in their 90’s, the youngest only 3, with one family providing sets from 3 generations of collectors.

The display includes exhibits from many different countries (many with the costumes, accessories, and animals of the local culture). Some are mass-produced, others professionally hand-carved or hand-painted, still others lovingly crafted at home. They range in age from vintage pieces of the 1940’s to the newest collectibles, and in complexity from single pieces to those with dozens of separate figures. Materials includ metal, stone, glass, crystal, porcelain, paper-mache, pottery, clay, resin, wood, wax, felt, fabric, and paper. The smallest figures are about 1/4″ tall, the largest about 2 feet tall.

The Festival, which also features refreshments and seasonal music, began in 2003 at Christ Episcopal Church, moved later to Trinity Lutheran, and again in 2010 to larger quarters at the Fellowship Hall at First Presbyterian Church. It will be open to the public Friday through Sunday during the first two weekends in December – Fridays and Saturdays from 10 am to 5 pm, Sundays from 1 pm to 4 pm, and on Saturday evening December 5 after the Parade until 8 pm.

Anyone wishing to lend a set for display this year is invited to contact the Community Nativity Festival Committee for an exhibit form.

Carol Schulz 479-243-0905

Frances Smith 479-243-0260 or 234-0978.

Colleen Amidei 630-746-8903

Forms are also available online at

The committee needs to receive the sets by Thanksgiving. They will be available for pick-up by December 17, in time to be displayed in your own home for Christmas.


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