Historic downtown Van Buren will host a full day of Christmas fun today beginning with a free Christmas concert to be followed by holiday events, prizes, Christmas lights and prizes and culminating with a visit from Santa Claus.

The Old Town Merchants Association will host an all-day Jingle & Mingle Holiday Market and Open House celebration from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. This event features horse drawn carriage rides, photo opportunities with Santa Claus and hot cocoa. There will also be a new twist on the tradition of merchants’ living window display as well as door prizes.

The unique shops of Main Street will also offer an assortment of refreshments and open house promotions.

The Tuba Christmas concert will help get the day started in a festive manner. The free concert, to be held at the King Opera House, begins at 11:30 a.m. and features many well-known and loved Christmas selections performed by tuba and euphonium players.

The Van Buren Chamber of Commerce’s Festival of Trees will keep the Christmas spirit going in conjunction with the Crawford County Courthouse’s lighting ceremony. The lighting ceremony begins at 6 p.m. During the program, the historic courthouse and festival trees will be lit up for the first time. Chamber festival winners will be announced during the event.

Admission is free and open to the public.

Prior to the festival program, the chamber will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the recently completed renovations on the historic Albert Pike Schoolhouse. Santa Claus will be on hand in the schoolhouse beginning at 5:30 p.m. to visit with children.

Throughout the evening, the Center for Art and Education and Van Buren High School’s JROTC cadet volunteers will man Santa’s workshop, where visitors will be able to decorate toys and ornaments provided by Trinity Episcopal Church. Heritage United Methodist Church will have gingerbread cookies to decorate with the decorating supplies being supplied by CAE.

The Dustin Booth State Farm Insurance Agency will serve up hot chocolate, along with cookies from the Crawford County Courthouse staff. Booths with popcorn from the Crawford County Adult Education Center and hot dogs from Joseph Rhodes State Farm Insurance Agency will also be waiting for guests.

This year’s festival sponsors are: Center for Art and Education; Crawford County Judge Dennis Gilstrap; Dustin Booth State Farm Insurance Agency; Joseph Rhodes State Farm Insurance Agency; Trinity Episcopal Church; Van Buren Advertising and Promotion.

Tree sponsors are: Arkansas Federal Credit Union; Arvest Bank (decorated by Arvest Bank and King Elementary School) ; Bancorp South (decorated by Central Elementary School, Ms. Lee’s fourth-grade class); CASA of Crawford County; Centennial Bank; Chance 2 Dance Studio; Crawford Health and Rehabilitation; Diversified Computer Resources; Generations Bank (decorated by Northridge Middle School Cheer and Dance); Cathy Gifford, Madame’s Main Attration (decorated by Red Oak Service Unit Girl Scouts); Heritage United Methodist Church (decorated by Heritage Children’s Ministry); Kiwanis Club of Van Buren (decorated by Kiwanis K-Kids); Pointer Trail Animal Clinic (decorated by Almost Home Shelter and Rescue); Press Argus-Courier (decorated by Boys and Girls Club of Van Buren); Michael and Suzanna Saltz (decorated by our friends at the Crawford County Courthouse); Strategic Realty Developers; and The Old Town Merchants Association.