By RACHEL JACKSON
DALTON -- Everywhere you look during the Dalton Holidays Festival, you see signs of tradition.
From the parade to the craft room to the baking contest and beyond, each aspect of the festival is eagerly anticipated and appreciated by someone, as residents and visitors alike gather in town to celebrate Christmas.
Preparations, of course, begin much earlier than December. Girl Scout Troop 57, for example, begins testing crafts and games well ahead of the Christmas season, to ensure their Children's Room offerings are up to snuff.
"At our Girl Scout meetings, we had all the Girl Scouts think of two ideas, and we try them and then we decide," Scout Paige Sumser said.
That way, they know how to do each activity and they know if a particular activity may take too long, she said. Parents may sign their children into the room for games and crafts, while the parents head back out into the halls to do a littleshopping among the rows and rows of craft and vendor tables. Children's games are donated by Lehman's and crafts are donated by Pat Catan's.
Youngsters also have the opportunity to write letters with Santa, talk to the jolly old elf in person, or get their faces painted, said Lisa Gardner, one of the adult helpers on scene Saturday.
"To take care of the little kids is fun. To see what all they kids like about it, and to see their faces light up when they make stuff, is the best part," Scout Courtney Gardner said.
Outside the Children's Room, the hallways of the high school are lined with vendors' tables, featuring all kinds of gift and craft selections for the holidays. Among them Saturday was Peak Inc., a Massillon day services program for those with developmental disabilities that's operated by Nan and Mark Warren and Gregg Elliott.
Clients Mickey McGlenn and Brian Massey described the crafts available via Peak Inc. and the work they put into the projects. The featured project for the past two years has been decorated wine bottles that are lighted from the inside.
"We clean the bottle, drill a hole in the bottom, put the light in. Once we get the light in, we design," McGlenn said.
Typically, the artists will try to match the design to the label on the bottle, Nan Warren said.
Sometimes, if the artists want the effect of colored lights, they'll add tint to plain lights, rather than buying specially colored lights, Mark Warren explained.
The project not only provides clients with a creative outlet and an income, it also serves as an adaptive reuse of old glass bottles, he said. All the bottles used in the project have been donated by area restaurants and wineries.
"They're all recycled," Massey said.
Tucked into another room in the high school are the results of Friday's baking contest. Among the winners was Maggie Ressler, 12, who earned second place for her holiday pies. She enters the contest nearly every year along with her siblings and earned best of show in 2009. Saturday, she visited the contest room with her grandmother, Janet Lower, long enough to take a quick photo and grab a sample from the tray.
"It's fun to bake," Maggie said. She typically enters her favorite recipes for the contest.
Also visiting the baking contest room were Cathy Harder and her co-worker, Candy Wagner. Harder spends time at the festival every year and invited Wagner, who lives in Ashland.
"She said, you've got to come see it," Wagner recalled.
"This is great for Dalton -- the whole weekend. It's a lot of fun," Harder said.
Partaking of refreshments in the cafeteria were Cindy Kiefer, who visited the festival for the second year after many years of living out of state; and festival veterans Norma Neglic and June Hiner, who was grand marshal for Saturday's parade.
"Each year is just as nice or nicer. It brings in a lot of outsiders we don't see," Hiner said.
Her favorite part of the festival is the opportunity to visit with old friends, newer friends and grand- and great-grandchildren, she said.
All three thought the parade went well.
"The parade was great. All age groups get involved -- that's cool to see -- but the whole town is like that," Kiefer said.
The festival continues today with a ham dinner, live entertainment and the craft show and children's room open at the high school
Reporter Rachel Jackson can be reached at 330-674-5676 or firstname.lastname@example.org
By RACHEL JACKSON, By RACHEL JACKSON Staff Writer
Publication: Daily Record (Wooster, Ohio)
Date: Sunday, December 5 2010