News Column

Nativities Festival Draws Thousands

Dec. 3, 2012

Dave Kern

Seven-year-old Collin Horrocks was happy to show the scene from Mexico that was his favorite at Sunday's Festival of the Nativities.

"It's cool," he said of the blue wood figures with the memorable eyes. And his favorite figure? "The baby Jesus."

An estimated 10,000 people attended the four-day event, the 12th for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Vancouver Stake, near Mill Plain Boulevard and Interstate 205.

"We like that it is Christ-centered," said Collin's dad, Josh Horrocks. He was there with his wife, Katie, and his other two children, Hadley, 4, and Orson 1. The La Center family attends the Vancouver North Stake in the Ridgefield area.

"We really think it is important to teach the kids about the birth of Christ," Josh said.

The festival, which is always free, featured 659 nativities, along with children's activities, music and a live nativity. The nativities are from 48 countries, said Coleen Collins, director of the festival.

"It's a great way to start the Christmas season," Collins said of attending the festival.

Katie Horrocks said viewing nativities from around the globe makes one realize: "It's still the same story. It brings a unity that it's not just an American tradition. It's all over the world."

"You can feel the Christmas spirit," said Gretta Rogers of Vancouver. She was at the festival with her husband, Daniel Rogers, and her sons, Gabriel Rogers, 9, Elijah Hoffine, 9, Zion Hoffine, 7, and Andrew Rogers, 7. They are members of the Vancouver stake.

"Look at that one," exclaimed Gabriel, of a nativity of a polar bear family.

The festival invites artisans to show their work, and the nativity by dollmaker Elinor Peace Bailey was drawing attention.

Her dolls of Mary, Joseph and Jesus were backed by ones of the three wise men.

"I feel this is a great place for artists," Bailey said. She is a member of the Vancouver stake. There are about 3,500 members at that stake and there are nearly 20,000 members of the church's four stakes in Clark County.

Bailey teaches dollmaking and sells doll patterns.

Asked whether, if you bought a pattern, you could make a doll, Bailey replied, "Not as good as mine."

She added, "The real story is the savior. I think it's terribly important to remember what it's all about."

Source: (c)2012 The Columbian (Vancouver, Wash.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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