The Umatilla County Fairgrounds is undergoing a transformation to host the annual Festival of Lights.

This year is the first time the holiday tradition has been run as a nonprofit organization, and organizers still need volunteer help to get ready for the Nov. 25 grand opening.

“We’ve made a lot of progress so far, but there is still a lot to do,” volunteer coordinator Terrel Tovey said in an email. “Without a little more interest from the community, we may not make it.”

Organizers will have “meaningful work” ready for anyone who wants to stop by during the afternoons on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week or all day Saturday, Nov. 12. Volunteers can also help decorate the Christmas tree forest during the week of Nov. 14. Any church groups or organizations interested in volunteering can contact Tovey at 541-571-4277 or tovey6992@charter.net to coordinate work.

It’s also not too late for those interested in taking a commercial interest in the Festival of Lights. The Holiday Market Craft Bazaar will return to Thompson Hall this year, and that event kicks off Nov. 25. Vendors are asked to be ready by 5 p.m. that evening, and merchandise may be left covered in the building over night.

Interested vendors are invited to fill out an application and drop it by Mailing Made Easy or the Umatilla County Fairgrounds office. Applications can also be mailed. For more information, contact vendor coordinators Donna Sutton, 541-567-8204 or donna.sutton@umatilla.k12.or.us, or Susan Munoz, 541-571-4179.

The 13th annual Festival of Lights kicks off with the lighted parade at 6 p.m. Nov. 25. The parade will travel through downtown Hermiston to the Umatilla County Fairgrounds, where the festival will open for its first night. The festival runs each Friday, Saturday and Sunday night from Nov. 25-Dec. 23. On Thursdays only, beginning Dec. 1, people may drive through the fairgrounds between 5-9 p.m. Hours for Friday and Saturday are 5-9 p.m., Sundays from 5-8 p.m. While it does not cost anything to enter the Festival of Lights, donations are accepted. 

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