Five churches and Bigham Knoll have banded together to present a living nativity that recreates the story of the birth of Christ from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday and 3:30 to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The inaugural event last year drew 3,500 viewers.
More than 60 actors will portray six scenes — from the Angel Gabriel visiting Mary before the birth through the wise men finding the Christ child in Bethlehem. Pre-recorded narrations explain each scene and a guide will move along with groups of visitors as they move from scene to scene. The tours take about 30 minutes.
Last year, guides took groups just to the first scene. The added guide time is just one of the changes initiated by organizers. Hours have been expanded, there will be more musical presentations, a greater variety of food and more animals in the field, including two donkeys, sheep and the resident chickens.
After the tour, viewers can enjoy Christmas music from local churches and singing groups inside the Bigham Knoll gymnasium.
Hot fare from Frau Kemmling's Schoolhaus Brewhaus restaurant will be offered for sale at the event.
Churches participating include First Presbyterian, Jacksonville Calvary, Lumen Dei Church, St. Andrew's Anglican Church and Ruch Community Bible Church.
Bigham Knoll is located at the end of E Street off Fifth Street (Highway 238). Attendants will assist with parking.
— Tony Boom