Benton is ready for a ‘sweet’ Christmas

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Benton Christmas on the Square festival, parade set for Saturday

It’s the biggest holiday celebration in Bossier Parish and you’re invited!

BentonChristmasThe 16th annual Benton Christmas on the Square festival and parade will be held Saturday, Dec. 12, in Heritage Village Square. The event attracts thousands of people to the Bossier Parish town each year and this weekend’s festival will be no different as they prepare to host “One Sweet Christmas Celebration.”

The festival, which will take place rain or shine, includes free activities for children, shopping booths, food vendors, demonstrations, an afternoon parade through the streets of Benton and much more.

Parking is limited at the festival site. Free parking and a shuttle to the festival is available at the Bossier Parish Court House. Simply park at the courthouse on Burt Boulevard, hop on a bus and ride to a designated drop-off location near the festival site.

Opening ceremonies begin at 10 a.m. followed by the Dash around the Square 5k and one mile fun run.

Courtesy Photo
Courtesy Photo

Live entertainment and group performances are scheduled throughout the day. There’s also a student art contest, a classic car show, and photos with Santa.

“It’s the only Christmas parade and festival in Bossier,” said festival volunteer Dawn Bushnell. “This is somewhere to bring your kids, your entire family and your friends for a good time. We strive to make it a good quality event and a safe place for everyone to have fun. Come out and enjoy the day with us!”

Vendors from near and far will be set up on festival day, offering a variety of handmade items and home cooked goods. Bushnell said there are several returning vendors as well as new vendors on the list this year.

“We were able to reach out to people who have never been to our festival before,” she said. “We don’t like to overdo a specific art or craft to keep it fair to our vendors and shoppers. There’s really a wide variety of things to buy.”

Among the vendors are hand stamped sterling silver jewelry and keepsakes by Delena Ciastko Designs, handmade artisan soaps, candles, bath products, gifts, art, and home décor by South Porch Sundries, boot charms, necklaces, bracelets, earrings and coasters by Jenn’s Southern Charms, homemade jellies and adorable holiday art for your yard by Carrot Top Cannery & Vishnefski’s Yard Art, repurposed and upcycled glass made into art for your home and garden from Eco Blooms by Renee, plus many more!

A highlight of any festival is the food.

Southern Style Cooking, who has been a part of the festival from the very beginning, will have turkey legs, homemade salsa, fried pecans, pork skins, cracklins, seasoned crackers and gift baskets. Maxie’s Place will be serving up homemade chicken & dumplings, sausage biscuits, sweet rolls, pulled pork sandwiches, down home sausage, and wild thang sausage dogs. Stop by the Tiger Tent for funnel cakes, fried twinkies, snickers and honey buns, shrimp on a stick, tator twister, fried pickles, chicken on a stick, pretzels, nachos, corn dogs and fresh squeezed lemonade. Stop by Grady’s Smokehouse BBQ for chopped beef sandwiches, BBQ sauce, dry rub and gift baskets. Garcon Du Bayou will be serving shrimp, fish, & gator poboys, cajun burgers, funnel cakes, nachos, chili cheese fries, corn dogs, and jambalaya. And, even more food vendors are on the list to join the festival this year.

The Benton Christmas on the Square Festival and Parade Facebook page has been highlighting vendors daily. A complete list of vendors can be found on the festival’s website.

The children’s area will have plenty to do. New this year is a mechanical ride called Pirates Revenge. There’s also an archery demonstration area, inflatables,

Six historic structures make up Heritage Village, including a circa 1840 six-room dogtrot, an 1884 log cabin, a movable plantation kitchen, a one-room schoolhouse, an early 1900 corn crib and a blacksmith shop. A blacksmith demonstration as well as home tours will be available on festival day.

Photo by Amanda Simmons/Press-Tribune | State Rep. Henry Burns will serve as Grand Marshal of the 2015 Benton Rotary Christmas Parade, to be held rain or shine Saturday, Dec. 12, in Benton.
Photo by Amanda Simmons/Press-Tribune | State Rep. Henry Burns will serve as Grand Marshal of the 2015 Benton Rotary Christmas Parade, to be held rain or shine Saturday, Dec. 12, in Benton.

Crowds will line the streets for the Benton Rotary Christmas Parade at 3 p.m., hoping to grab some candy and throws as the floats pass by. State Rep. Henry Burns will serve as Grand Marshal of the parade. Jill Lucero with the Benton Rotary Club said Burns has been involved with the parade for years, participating just about every year since it started. The decision to make him Grand Marshal is a way to simply say thanks for the continued support.

“We wanted to honor him and say thanks for all he has done for this community and for his love for Bossier parish and for the state,” Lucero said.

Radio hosts Robert J. Wright and Erin McCarty will be serving as co-Grand Marshals.

Participants this year include Wayne Cathcart, Mayor of Benton, Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington, the World Champion archery teams from Benton Elementary School and Benton Middle School, marching bands, dance groups, riding groups and more.

Parade entries will be accepted up until festival day. Contact Jill Lucero at (318) 230-6956 for details on how to enter the parade.

For more information on the Benton Christmas on the Square festival and parade, visit www.bentonchristmasonthesquare.com.