Valley Journal
Valley Journal

Mission Valley towns host holiday festivities

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December brings a flurry of holiday festivities to the Mission Valley, beginning this Friday as Polson and St. Ignatius each host lighted parades, visits by St. Nick and related revelries. A week later, Lake County Fairgrounds in Ronan is aglow with Lights Under the Big Sky, which continues for two weekends, and is entwined with that community’s Parade of Lights on Dec. 17. 

Here’s a roundup of the season’s offerings: 


Santa plans to make an appearance at the annual Parade of Lights, sponsored by the Polson Business Community. The well-lit parade travels down Main Street at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3, with illuminated floats and vehicles lining up behind Cherry Valley Elementary School at 5 p.m. Trophies and prizes will be awarded for Best of Parade, Best Light Display, Most creative and Most Humorous. 

Many businesses stay open until 7 p.m. for holiday shopping, and food vendors and hot chocolate add to the festive feel.

Mission Valley Live! offers Bossa Christmas, a concert by Los Angeles-based Brazilian singer Caro Pierotto and her band, at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Polson High School Auditorium. With a captivating voice and a repertoire that includes samba, forró, reggae, soul and pop, Pierotto defies labels. For this performance, she’ll deliver favorite Christmas songs in English, with a Brazilian twist. 

Tickets are $15 for adults, and free for ages 18 and under (children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult). For more information, visit


With the sun going down around 4:30 p.m. it’s a perfect time for Lights Under the Big Sky to usher in the holiday season. At 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Dec. 10-11 and 17-18, the crew will flip the switch, and the fairgrounds in Ronan will light up the night until 9 p.m. 

Sjaan Vincent, who chairs Lights Under the Big Sky, and the Friends of the Lake County Fairgrounds elves started hanging lights and touching up the paint on angels and reindeer in October. Now the lighted vignettes are ready to enjoy. 

There will be activities for the kids in the Kids Zone, Christmas shopping and a forest of Christmas trees in the Ronan Community Center, Santa Claus in his bungalow, and food and drink available for purchase. Visitors can stroll the grounds sipping a hot chocolate or hot cider and warming up at a firepit. 

And there will be entertainment, too, according to Jim Pettit, who’s coordinating the various acts.

“We’ll have music all four nights,” Pettit said, adding that there will be a wide variety of musicians, singers, dancers, and choirs, performing everything from a cappella tunes to Merle Haggard. 

New this year is a Holiday ReTREEt, a chance for non-profit organizations “to help create a holiday forest scene in the Ronan Community Center … to showcase their involvement in our community,” according to Elf Patti Winter. As people enter Lights Under the Big Sky, they will be given a ticket to place in the 

candy-cane container by their favorite tree, with organizations having the opportunity to win up to $300 in prizes.

Santa Claus will be in residence every night at 5:30 p.m. except Friday, Dec. 17, when he’s riding atop a sleigh in the Ronan Parade of Lights. The parade travels through town at 6 p.m., before delivering the Jolly Gent to the fairgrounds at 6:30 p.m. To participate in this year’s parade, email Prize drawings for the Chamber of Commerce Shop Hop will be held at the fairgrounds post parade. 

Toys for Tots boxes will be available on the fairgrounds for those who would like to make a child’s Christmas brighter. Just drop a new, unwrapped toy in the box and Toys for Tots personnel and the United States Marines will deliver them.

Tickets for all this holiday cheer are $4 per adult or $20 for a family of six. Children four years and under get in free. 

St. Ignatius

A Christmas Carnival kicks off holiday happenings in St. Ignatius at 1 p.m. Dec. 4 in the elementary school. Games, face painting, a cakewalk, cookie decorating and visits by Santa and the Grinch are on tap. 

A tree lighting, caroling and parade of lights begins at 5:30 p.m. downtown, with chili and hot chocolate available. The 12 Days of Christmas promotion highlights local businesses from Dec. 13-24, culminating in a raffle on Christmas Eve. 

Holiday Bazaars

Artists and craft makers are also gearing up for the holidays, and will be selling their wares at craft fairs up and down the valley. Among them: 

Holiday Bazaar at the Pipes: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 5 at Allentown Restaurant on Hwy. 93. In addition to vendors, Santa promises to be on hand from 2-4 p.m. for free pictures with kids.

Holiday Bazaar at SKC: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Dec. 11 in the Sherri McDonald Hospitality Room of the Joe McDonald Gym at Salish Kootenai College in Pablo; call 307-690-7158 for details. 

Holiday Bar Bazaar: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 18 at the 325 Bar in Ronan; call 406-802-4016 to reserve a spot. 

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