The Casket - 2021-11-24


‘It’s a feast of all the senses’

Front Page


The brightness of thousands of Christmas lights on a giant outdoor tree chases away the dark. Holiday music floats through the air like falling snowflakes from the steeple of an old country church. The smells of cinnamon, hot chocolate and apple cider waft through the idyllic scene, and tasty treats from Candy Lane and Christmas Tea make mouths water. This is the first impression of many visitors to Sherbrooke Old Fashioned Christmas. “It’s a feast of all the senses. It’s a way to get yourself in the Christmas spirit,” said Heather Laybolt of the Sherbrooke Village Old Fashioned Christmas Association, which has partnered with the Sherbrooke Village Museum to stage the 25th Old Fashioned Christmas. “It’s like coming on the set of a Hallmark movie,” one visitor said on social media, according to Laybolt. After being cancelled in 2020 due to pandemic-related health restrictions, organizers expect more than 5,000 visitors from across the province will gather to celebrate an old-fashioned style country Christmas at Nova Scotia’s largest provincial museum, which boasts of 25 heritage buildings. More than two dozen events and activities are planned between 6 p.m. on Nov. 26 and 7 p.m. on Nov. 28. “We want to be able to provide something for everybody,” Laybolt says of the busy weekend schedule. “People come with an expectation now. So, you hate to let them down.” Laybolt said close to 400 volunteers from Sherbrooke and nearby communities, some beginning preparations soon after Thanksgiving, will have put in thousands of hours to make the weekend possible. “We have been checking the many thousands of Christmas lights. We need to make sure they operate before we put them on the tree and on the fences and everywhere,” Laybolt said. William and Jessie Johnston, of Sherbrooke, are two of the volunteers busy at work on this year’s preparations. They have been checking lights and producing thousands of meters of handmade garland and wreaths by twisting the boughs of fir trees from the area to adorn the fences and buildings throughout the village. Jessie said she enjoys working on the preparations with her husband. “It’s nice to do something together like that,” she said. She also said working on the wreaths and garland signals the start of the Christmas season. “It helps jumpstart the Christmas spirit,” she said. “When you walk in there and smell the scent of the fir (boughs), it’s a sensory thing. You just know that Christmas is coming.” William said the event is important to the Village of Sherbrooke because it brings so many visitors. It’s also a rallying point for the municipal district of St. Mary’s. “People take pride in the fact this event occurs and any amount of social networking in a community like ours is significant and important,” he said. “Anything that brings people together is a galvanizing force for the community.” The influx of so many visitors is also a cause for celebration among local business operators. “A lot of the businesses have significantly reduced hours this time of year. Or they only open seasonally,” Brenda Kaiser of the Sherbrooke Village Inn said. So, Kaiser welcomes that her 12 motel rooms, guest house and two efficiency rooms are in such high demand they are completely booked during the busy weekend of Old Fashioned Christmas. “Our motel gets booked usually the end of September for this event. And I’m still getting 10 to 15 calls a day looking for accommodation. We just don’t have it.” Meanwhile, Laybolt was born in Sherbrooke. Eventually, she brought her small children to the Old Fashioned Christmas events. Now, she volunteers as an event organizer with several members of her extended family. “When I retired it’s something I really wanted to jump into with both feet because I love Christmas. It’s a magical time of year. It’s a time of giving and love and happiness,” Laybolt said. “Somebody asked me one time, what I get paid for doing this?” she said. “Just the joy. That’s the payback for me. Opening night when you see the joy on people’s faces as they walk in and see the lights all lit. It makes your heart fill up.” Information on the updated schedule of events and activities and COVID protocols are available at and on Facebook.


© PressReader. All rights reserved.