Deep River’s ‘Festival of Light, Hope, and Art’ Starts Dec. 5
Balancing by Gray Jacobik of Deep River is one of the art pieces that’s part of Deep river’s Festival of Light, Hope, and Art. )
Bill Nitschke and Rhonda Forristall adjust the Deep River Historical Society’s “Frosty the Snowman” tree on the porch of the stone house. (Photo courtesy of Kathy Schultz )
The Deep River Historical Society is collaborating with the Deep River Merchants Association and the River Valley Artists to reimagine its annual Festival of Trees event during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Realizing that an indoor-style event with participants visiting the Carriage and Stone houses to view and vote on holiday trees could not take place this year, these groups have come together for the first-ever town-wide holiday display called the Festival of Light, Hope, and Art.
The festival, running Saturday, Dec. 5 through Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, will include decorated trees and art in store windows and in outdoor locations throughout town including the Winthrop section.
Kathy Schultz, a trustee for the Deep River Historical Society, says the main purpose of the event is “to bring goodwill to all by bringing cheer to an otherwise gloomy 2020,” adding that to help “people feel joyful and hopeful, we thought light would be the best way to go about it.”
The hub of the festival will be Deep River’s downtown area, where those shopping, dining, or strolling can enjoy the window displays.
Approximately 23 artists from the River Valley Artists will participate in the festival this year, including 13 from Deep River.
Claudia Van Nes, an artist and gallery owner from Chester, said that with the cancellation of the River Valley Artists’ annual studio tour this fall, the festival gives “one more opportunity” to showcase artists’ work.
An artist from Deep River, Jeanne O’Brien, helped connect the artists with the Deep River Merchants Association, which led to inclusion in the festival.
Stacie DiNello, president of the Deep River Merchants Association, said the event is one that inspires the spirit of community during the pandemic.
“Many businesses and families are facing challenges that no one could have foreseen and through no fault of their own,” said DiNello. “So, we put up a tree here, string some lights there, and add in pieces of local artwork. If it helps to put a smile on someone’s face, how can we go wrong?”
Outdoor locations for trees and lights, as a few examples, will include the porch of the Deep River Historical Society located at 245 Main Street, the gazebo at Kirtland Commons located at 60 Main Street, and the First Congregational Church of Deep River, which will have trees on Union and Main streets.
Festival organizers have also asked residents to participate.
“We expanded the light theme to include all of Deep River and contacted some of the residential participants of the scarecrow contest to see if they would light up for the holidays and help us spread the word,” said DiNello. “We will be putting together a map with the location of all the displays either for foot traffic or to drive the trail of light.”
“The event is growing, and the enthusiasm is mounting,” said Schultz.