Hundreds of hours of work by volunteers, contractors and fairgrounds employees will pay off Friday evening when thousands of decorations come to life at the Umatilla County Fairgrounds.

The 12th annual Festival of Lights begins at 6 p.m. Friday with the lighted parade. The parade begins at East Newport Avenue near Newport Park and travels down Southeast Sixth Street, East Main Street and Southwest Third before moving down West Orchard Avenue to to the fairgrounds.

After the parade, the holiday craft bazaar will debut and food booths, pictures with Santa and carriage rides will be available at the fairgrounds. Free hot cocoa and coffee will be served.

In addition to new lighting and different display positioning, this year’s festival will also include other first-time features.

“Outside we’ll have a food booth that will do things like sausages and hamburgers and french fries and another booth that does things like funnel cakes and cookies and jams and jellies. Both of those are new this year, and Thompson Hall is almost full of vendors,” fair manager Peggy Clough said Monday. “For the first time we’ve pulled out the Umatilla County Fair stage, and we hope to have entertainment most every night starting at 6.”

Weather permitting, the extravaganza will run from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday evenings and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday evenings from Nov. 26 to Dec. 19.

“Special Citizen Drive Thru Nights” will also be offered Dec. 9 and 16 by reservation only for people with special needs or ambulation difficulties.

Admission to the Festival of Lights is free, but donations are accepted.

For more information, call 541-567-6121 or visit the Umatilla County Fairgrounds office at 515 W. Orchard Ave.

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