“An Old Fashion Country Christmas,” has fast become a favorite holiday event in Surry County, twice filling the Eldora Ruritan Club to its 450-person capacity and generating about $8,000 total in donations in just two years.
Organizers of the third-annual production, which is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 3 at 7 p.m., hope to keep that momentum going.
“We’ve changed it up a little bit for people not to expect the same old thing they’ve been seeing,” said Billy C. Smith, director of the play, musician and Ruritan club member. “Just some little surprises stuck in here and there.”
Among those changes, this year’s cast has been drawn from numerous area churches, forming the “Old Fashion Country Choir.”
They include Jonathan Bledsoe, soloist, Cindy Marion, Jerry Johnson, Elizabeth Folger, Diana Johnson, Scott and Wes Bruner, Bobby Simpson and Smith.
The music will include a mixture of traditional Christmas songs, hymns, original music and “different music that they might not have heard before,” said Smith, adding, “there will be a tribute to the Grand Old Opry at the very beginning of the show I think everyone will enjoy.”
Despite the efforts to keep the presentation fresh, the production stays true to its name.
“The story is the same, the Biblical story of Christ,” Smith said.
Narrated by Grandpa Grayson Simmons seated in his farmhouse living room, the Bible story is played out in a traditional manger and Bethlehem setting.
“It gets to be a real reverent mood,” Smith said. “It turns into almost a church service before we’re done. I don’t know why; that’s the Lord’s doing not mine. I think everyone leaves with the real meaning of Christmas.”
That true meaning is also reinforced with the fundraising aspect of the show.
A $2 admission fee supports the use of the building, and all additional donations collected go to the Surry County Sheriff’s Office’s “Give A Kid A Christmas.”
The gift donation program annually provides about $100 of essentials and toys for more than 600 local children.
“We’re not rich people,” Smith said, “I’ve always been blessed to have a family that could afford some Christmas. Some kids don’t have that opportunity, especially in our county. We’ve been hit hard the last few years,” he continued. “Who better to know who needs help out there than the sheriff’s department. They’re out there everyday among everybody.”
Sheriff Graham Atkinson will speak after the play on Saturday, and deputies will be on site collecting what Smith called “free-will donations,” meaning, “whatever you feel you can do.”
The production has generated an average of $3,500 to $4,000 per year for “Give A Kid A Christmas.”
“I hope we’ll do about that well this year too,” said Smith.
“We’re just asking for everyone to come and come expecting a blessing, expecting to have a good turnout, especially to help neighbors that need a helping hand this time of year. That’s really what it’s all about.”
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.