Vancouver retiree Bruce Preece spent 50 hours crafting a lawn display of baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, wise men and shepherds out of plywood a couple of years ago. The stark white figures stand out against a gold-hued cutout of Bethlehem, which he designed from his memory of a 1978 visit to the holy city.
His handiwork will be among 600 similar scenes of all sizes and media on display this weekend at the 10th annual Festival of the Nativities at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Vancouver.
If you go
• What: Festival of Nativities.
• When: Noon to 9 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.
• Where: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 10509 S.E. Fifth St., Vancouver.
• Cost: Free.
That’s the church Preece and his wife, Nancy, attend. But what they enjoy about the festival is that people of all denominations provide nativities for the four-day event.
“The thing that’s really neat about the Festival of Nativities is that the community is involved,” Bruce Preece said. “It’s the only one like it in the Portland-metro area.”
Visitors can peruse the multitude of nativity scenes from 30 countries from noon to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, as well as watch a re-enactment of the first Christmas beginning at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday.
In two rooms dedicated to children’s activities, kids can hear stories, make crafts and dress in nativity costumes.
Musical performances will begin at 5 p.m. Thursday and Saturday, and 4 p.m. Friday. Performers include harpists Hannah Wrowan and Jennifer Pratt-Walter at 4 p.m. Friday; the Columbia Adventist Academy Bell Choir at 6 and 7 p.m. Friday; and Mt. Hood Madrigal Singers at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Christmas devotionals will be offered at 5 and 7 p.m. Sunday.
“It’s really fun for families,” Nancy Preece said. “It’s a great way to get yourself in the mood for the Christmas season.”