Downtown Christmas Tree Lighting Kicks Off Holiday Season in Turlock

Noel Daniel|

Turlock’s 15th Annual Festival of Lights took place Friday night, filling Main Street with sights, smells and sounds of the holidays. Not only was Turlock’s Christmas tree lit during the festivities, there was also a lengthy street faire boasting numerous food and business vendors.

“It was a good festival,” said Ashley Stinson of her first time at the Festival of Lights. “I liked seeing all the local shops that came out and set up booths. It had a wonderful holiday atmosphere.”

By far the most popular vendor was the Peppermint Creek Carriage Company, based out of Jamestown, CA, which gave festival-goers a ride in a Victorian era carriage pulled by a decorated horse and heralded by a woman in period garb. There was an impressive line that stretched down the street, full of those eager for a ride.

There were also a number of fundraising and nonprofit booths set up, including the United Samaritans Foundation truck that served out free coffee, cocoa, apple cider and cookies with a sign that read “Merry Christmas from the United Samaritans Foundation.”

The Salvation Army was also present, ringing their bells and handing out free danishes to passers-by. The Christmas Can Tree—an annual fundraising drive organized by a Local Realtor Group for the past 31 years—had a booth selling aprons and passing out candy canes.

One of the fundraising booths held cages full of exotic birds— Cruzin’ Critters presents Wisdom thru Wildlife. They hold educational programs for classrooms, scouts and birthday parties with live animal presentations. They’re also having a promotion with Avon where 40% of purchases go to the foundation of an aviary for rescued birds.

Local businesses took to the street such as Bell Real Estate Services, which showcased bicycles from Cycle Masters located on E. Main Street.

Even more local were the handmade wares and independent consultants. There were a number of jewelry booths, among them Bee’s Boutique, an area hopeful who makes jewelry and hair bows and is looking for a shop of her own.

Erica Methvin of Gold Canyon Candles was also selling products, like a delectable hot cocoa-scented candle topped with fake marshmallows. Gold Canyon does home parties, events and fundraising.

A number of tables selling assorted toys and goods found several places along the fair. One was set up like a dollar store bazaar, with a number of boxes lined up selling anything from hats to brooms, scarves, bubbles and home goods. One table sold $1 cocoa, a purchase Heather Hines was glad to make.

“I like to support local businesses,” Hines said with a laugh. She also mentioned that she enjoyed the children’s choir because it reminded her of her experiences with the Girl Scouts. “I mainly came here for the tree lighting, though.”

There were a number of food vendors: from Maria’s Mexican Food and Seafood to Castro’s Bar-B-Que Shack and Filipino Food. The Cupcake Lady’s iconic truck was parked near the end of the fair, and had an assortment of delicious cakes. For those kettle corn aficionados, however, there were two different options— Cap’n Coop’s Kettle corn selling a large for $8 and Dale’s Gourmet Kettle Popcorn selling a large for $7.

If you missed the Festival of Lights, make sure to catch the Turlock Downtown Christmas Parade on Dec. 6, starting at 6:30 p.m.

Comments 2

  1. Maggy says:

    I didn’t attend this year but I have family that came from modesto as this has been a tradition. They were very disapointed and said it was not worth attending. I would like to know what h happened to the live entertainment? About five yrs ago it was fun to attend. There were stages set up and different bands playing, there was a raffle and A Church choir that would sing Christmas carols. What has happened? And how can we get the live entertainment back?

  2. Hennes says:

    Maggy,
    the reason why there was no music is because you have idiots running the downtown organization. I was talking to a city council member and she said that the leadership at the Downtown Ass. dropped the ball. There was no band or music. She thought that maybe the Chamber of Commerce should take it over. She said they could do a better job

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