The holiday season in the area will soon get into full swing with several holiday-themed events including the city Stevens Point Holiday Parade and the opening of the Riverfront Art Center’s Fine Art Gift Gallery show Friday, Nov. 16, as well as the Tinsel Trail gift show Sunday, Nov. 18.
The official downtown Christmas lighting will be held at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16, in the Public Square in Stevens Point. The parade, which is in its 24th year, will feature about 60 floats which will begin making their way down Main Street starting at 6:15 p.m. “It’s a great way to start your holiday season with your family,” said Jordan Eckendorf, Main Street director for the Association of Downtown Businesses.
The Holiday Parade will be led by emergency vehicles and will finish with a special appearance at the end of the parade by Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus. Eckendorf said there is no special theme this year.
Main Street parking restrictions begin at 2 p.m. through the end of the parade.
The Riverfront Art Center (RAC), 1200 Crosby Ave., Stevens Point, will hold the opening of its 14th annual Fine Art Gift Gallery show from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16.
People will have a chance to meet some of the roughly 88 Portage County, regional and state artists who will have work available for purchase in the show. “Most of the art is from right here in this area,” said Nancy Thorson, RAC director. “It’s a huge variety.” Art will be available throughout the show, which runs through Dec. 23, including paintings, jewelry, photography, pottery, prints, glass, scarves, greeting cards, baskets and fiber art.
Prices range from a few dollars to $3,000, though most items skew toward the lower end of the price spectrum. Proceeds will be split between the artist and the gallery, which takes its standard 30-percent commission on all purchased items, making the show the largest fundraiser for RAC.
Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) Arts Management interns, Rachel Widner and Lauren Seward, will facilitate the gift wrapping at the RAC on Fridays throughout the show, as well as a special shopping night for two different groups. A special “men only” shopping night will be held Thursday, Dec. 13, from 4 to 6 p.m. and will feature gift-wrapping and selection consultants to help ease the task of choosing a gift. People shopping for gifts for men should also have an easier time this year, said Thorson, as an effort was made to add more items that appeal to masculine tastes.
A student shopping night will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. also on Thursday, Dec. 13. “Before students go home for the holidays, they may like to do a little shopping,” said Thorson, who said the gallery plans to have pizza available for that part of the evening.
The Gift Gallery show, which has been held each year since the RAC was opened in 1999, is a way for people to get fine art items as gifts or for their own collections. For more information people can call the RAC at 715-343-6251 or visit its website StevensPoint.com/RAC or Facebook page.
Wrapping up the weekend, the Stevens Point Junior Women’s Club will sponsor its 43rd annual Tinsel Trail Art and Crafts Fair at the Holiday Inn and Convention Center, 1001 Amber Ave., Stevens Point, on Sunday, Nov. 18, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. More than 200 exhibitors are expected. “We get bigger and bigger every year,” said Karen Salienko, Junior Women’s Club president. “We have about 15 vendors on the waiting list.”
About 2,500 people attended the event last year, visiting booths with handmade items including jewelry, pottery, purses and totes, wooden toys and décor, soaps, and garden art. “It all has to be handmade,” said Salienko. “There is a jury. The crafter has to send in a description of their product and a photo.”
A lot of the previous year’s vendors will return this year, but there will be many new crafts areas represented, said Salienko. “It’s a good mix, there are a lot of holiday items,” she said.
There is a $3 admission fee, which along with fees charged to the vendors, helps make Tinsel Trail a fundraiser for the Junior Women’s Club. The club distributes the profits to various charitable organizations in the area throughout the year. “All the money goes back to the community,” said Salienko. “We’re completely run by volunteers.”
Last year’s profits helped the club donate between $7,000 and $8,000 to area groups including Central Wisconsin Children’s Theater, Never Forgotten Honor Flight, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Portage County and Place of Peace. Project Lifesaver of Portage County, a program that uses radio technology to help local law enforcement officials locate participating adults and children with disabilities who are prone to wandering, received the club’s annual $2,000 grant.
Eight free vendor booths have been set aside for nonprofits groups this year that will be able to attend the event and sell items to support their organizations.
“It should be a good show,” said Salienko, who said Junior Women’s Club volunteers had worked hard to plan and prepare for the event. “At this point, we’re ready to go.”
For more information about Tinsel Trail people can call 715-630-1910 or visit the website stevenspointjwc.org.