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Bonanzaville to celebrate holiday traditions

Organizers have been busy the past several weeks 'decking the halls' at Bonanzaville for what they hope will be one of their grandest holiday celebrations ever, as they host their annual "Christmas on the Prairie," Saturday, Dec. 5, from 3 to 7 p.m. at the historic pioneer village.

Christmas lights and other holiday finery will line the walkway from the main museum to St. John's Church, the route for the variety of activities planned, sure to offer up plenty of fun and entertainment for young and old alike.

St. John's will feature a new program every hour, including special music and the reading of "The Christmas Story."

Costumed interpreters will be prevalent on the grounds walking around explaining and offering their expertise whenever and wherever needed.

Special demonstrations will also take place in Dawson Hall, focusing on lefse and flatbread making, and the ever-popular Norwegian Rommegrot will also be served.

Longtime West Fargo resident Janice Hoffman is coordinating this years' "Christmas on the Prairie." She has served as a volunteer for a number of years herself, an expert in demonstrating basket and rug weaving, processes she has shared several times in the past during the annual Pioneer Days observance in August.

Hoffman's interest in the village runs deep and is directly attributable to her love of history, which she majored in in college before teaching in the subject area.

Hoffman said the event itself is historical in nature as it mimics and is reminiscent of Christmases on the prairies of long ago. "It's an excellent tradition to have, and continue and one that Bonanzaville is very proud of."

The event will also be packed full of music, including caroling from local students on Bonanzaville's Main Street, as well as a score of other live musical entertainment.

Snow or not, horse-drawn sleigh rides will also be the order of the day; a special visit from Santa is also in store; and hands-on Christmas crafts for the children, including decorating their very own Christmas cookies, will also be plentiful; as will a variety of holiday treats to sample, with both the complimentary kind those attending can enjoy along the way, and the bake sale version available in Dawson Hall to purchase and take home to savor later.

Hoffman encourages everybody who is able to stop out at Bonanzaville on Saturday. "This family event is free as a thank you to the community for coming to Bonanzaville throughout the summer. This is the end of our season out here, and we want to say thank you to the people who visit our village during the year. It's going to be a lot of fun with lots of things to see and do. Santa will be there listening to the kids, there'll be old-time toys, some for sale, and a lot of different fun type things to do."

On that note, Hoffman emphasizes that such events as "Christmas on the Prairie" are made possible only through the efforts of the countless dedicated volunteers who contribute their time and talents to add to the success. Hoffman said that it is her hope that once visitors to such events witness all the goodwill generated, they might consider becoming a volunteer themselves one day.

Winter hours are presently being observed at Bonanzaville, which means the main office is the only open facility from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Hoffman explains that the cold weather makes it difficult to have the village's main buildings open year round.

However, the "Christmas on the Prairie" celebration is the first of many special events that are being planned at Bonanzaville during the winter season, with others to be announced to the public as plans unfold.

In the meantime, Hoffman extends a personal invitation to "everyone to come out to Bonanzaville this Saturday for an old-fashioned Christmas celebration and hopefully enjoy lots of fun in the process."

Admission to the event is free. There will be concessions and other booths available where charges will apply.

Bonanzaville is located at 1351 W. Main Ave., West Fargo. Inquiries can be made by calling 282-2822 or visiting their Web site at