The Old Fashioned Christmas Evening Variety Show isn’t just holiday entertainment, it’s a chance to travel back to a era where neighbors far and wide trek through the snow to catch up, sing carols, watch local talent and enjoy bags of ribbon candy. The show takes place tonight and Friday at the Old Opera House Theatre in Kooskia.The event first took place 20 years ago in an effort to re-create the country church or country schoolhouse Christmas programs “like they used to have years ago,” said Marcia Graves, theater owner. And the idea worked.
“People just love it,” Graves said.
The show sells out to audiences every year, even after they moved to two evening performances. They get people traveling from places like Juliaetta, Lewiston, Weippe and Grangeville, some of whom make a yearly tradition of it. She accepts ticket reservations by phone and by the first of December typically hears from family groups who make an annual trip to the event.
Though the show doesn’t start until 7:30 p.m., the doors open by 6:45 p.m. and the house is packed by 7 p.m., Graves said. People come dressed up for Christmas and in a festive mood, taking the chance to catch up with friends and neighbors while waiting for the show to start.
“We always seem to have a really happy crowd,” Graves said.
The show includes a variety of acts and ages, from a young “Holly Boy” that’s “cute as can be” to well-known community members who perform.
“We have some pretty good talent up this way,” Graves said.
Around 20 acts fill up the hour and a half show, which includes an intermission where the audience can purchase pies and other homemade desserts. The evening typically includes some sing-along carols, ending with “O Holy Night,” “Auld Lang Syne” and “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.” All performers and audience members leave with a bag of old-fashioned candies and treats.
“It’s really been special, it puts you in the Christmas mood,” Graves said.
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: Old Fashioned Christmas Evening Variety Show
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday
WHERE: Old Opera House Theatre, 011 S. Main St., Kooskia
COST: $12/person; reserve or pick up tickets early at Graves Nursery, (208) 926-0094