The Irricana and District Agricultural Society has announced the return of its popular Christmas on Main Street event, including activities such as face-painting, wagon rides, arts and crafts, street hockey games, and more.
The Dec. 2 event, which will run from approximately 5 to 9 p.m. in various locations across town, follows a two-year hiatus of the small-town holiday staple during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to event planner Cathryn Hagel.
She said even though the pandemic “threw a wrench” into the organization of the event over the last couple of years, the local agricultural society is more than a little excited to see the return of the event.
“It’s what agricultural societies are about – community and bringing community together,” Hagel said in an interview. “This is finally an event that we can throw that is safe and people can enjoy thoroughly, not just with restrictions and regulations.
“We’re really looking forward to it and seeing everybody out [celebrating].”
Though Hagel said she has lost count of the number of years the event has been ongoing, a Rocky View Weekly article from 2018 indicates this year's event will be the ninth iteration.
Regardless of when exactly it started, Hagel said Christmas on Main Street has been a well-loved tradition since its inception.
“I think [it’s popular] because people get to know each other, they get to come out of their houses,” she said. “They’re not just doing the back-and-forth to school and hockey and work.”
Hagel added the event also provides a chance for residents to celebrate the holiday season early and participate in some traditional Christmastime events such as horse-drawn wagon rides, and caroling.
“It’s touching base back to our roots as when we were kids and doing things like that,” she said.
According to the event planner, the event is a gathering of residents from Irricana and the surrounding communities that encourages participants to celebrate Christmas and each other in a variety of ways.
“We have a lot of activities going on up and down the Main Street and then all over town,” she remarked.
She added there will also be a Christmas market at the Irricana Lions Community Hall and craft time. In keeping with tradition, the event will welcome an appearance from Santa Claus, who will arrive at the Irricana & Rural Municipal Library via the back of a fire truck at 6 p.m.
To spread some added Christmas cheer, there will also be plenty of freebies for attendees, including hot chocolate and candy canes.
Though the event has boasted carol singing in previous years, Hagel said the carolers are unable to attend this year, so the organization is attempting to find a swift replacement to provide guests some alternative musical entertainment.
“It’s just a night out – a couple of hours to spend outside getting to know your neighbours and enjoy the Christmas season,” Hagel concluded.
As part of an effort to foster Christmas cheer in time for the big event, the Town of Irricana will also be offering up “Kindness Kits” from Nov. 25 to Dec. 5, according to Hagel who is also an animator for the Rural Mental Health Network.
“They’re little gift bags that are available at the post office in the library for people to pick up that are free,” she said. “They can give [them] to somebody as an act of kindness – somebody that shoveled their walk, just because, or a new neighbour they want to meet.”
Hagel added the initiative is fully funded through the Rural Mental Health Network and through the Town of Irricana’s Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) department.
Those interested in participating or contributing to the Christmas on Main Street event are encouraged to contact Hagel directly at 403-899-9554 or through the I Love Irricana Facebook page.