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Victorian Country Christmas Festival to celebrate 30th anniversary

Immerse yourself in the Victorian theme

The 30th annual Victorian Country Christmas Festival. Photo credit: Victorian Country Christmas Festival

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Christmas is the season for family traditions. Everything -- from food to decorations and holiday outings -- reflects the way things have always been done, sometimes for generations. For more than a generation now, many residents of the South Sound region have included the Victorian Country Christmas Festival among their most-beloved Christmas traditions. This year, the tradition continues at the Washington State Fair Events Center in Puyallup.

Wednesday, Nov. 29, the Festival celebration kicks into high gear with the Extreme Christmas Tree Lighting at 6 p.m. The lighting of the tree will be accompanied by holiday music, a live reindeer display and free cider and cookies. From 3 until 7 p.m., admission is just $2 with the donation of a new, unwrapped toy for the Salvation Army's annual Christmas toy drive.

Along with the tree lighting, this year's admission welcomes festival goers to step back in time.

"The idea was to create an immersion experience in the Victorian theme," said Shari Furnstahl, whose mother, Linda Pressey, started the festival in 1987. "Shopkeepers in (more than) 500 stores would assist patrons to find the perfect gift for everyone on their list. The décor would create a Victorian Village.  Her vision included strolling musicians, concerts, stage shows, a tree lighting and more."

Furnstahl and her husband, Dave, have continued this vision since taking over the festival following the retirement of Pressey and her husband. Along with the 500 shops, the annual experience includes costumed vendors, Victorian-era décor, a Winter Wine Garden with beer and wine -- by the glass, bottle and case - wandering musicians, live stage shows and concerts -- including the Sweet Tea Trio, straight from Nashville, performing for the Saturday Night Spotlight -- carriage rides, an authentic horse-drawn sleigh, a carousel, and a Santa Tram providing magical conveyance to Santa's Village, where the young and young at heart can visit with the jolly old elf himself. This year's festival will also include the Jump Zone, presented by Spring Free Trampoline.  Visitors will even have the chance to win tickets to the 5th Avenue Theater's production of Holiday Inn. And on Nov. 30, visitors aged 62 and older will be treated to a special event beginning at 10:30 a.m. in the Holiday Jubilee Theater. This event will include the opportunity to win thousands of dollars in prizes. Parking is free and so are kids age 5 and younger.

The Victorian Country Christmas Festival is a labor of love.

"A Victorian Country Christmas is a family owned operation," said Furnstahl, who is a special education teacher at Auburn High School. Even after 30 years, the Furnstahls, who also own and operate The Dance Academy in Puyallup, work together all year to put together a special, one-of-a-kind experience for the community. "We focus on this one festival in preparation for our five-day event each year," she said. "We continue to work as a family to maintain this wonderful holiday tradition. We hope everyone will visit us this year!"

A Victorian Country Christmas Festival, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 29-30; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Dec. 1-2; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 3, Washington State Fair Events Center, prices at the gate: adults, $12; seniors, (62+) and students (age 6-18) $10; military with ID, $9; children ages 5 and under are free; discounted tickets are available online, 110 9th Ave. SW, Puyallup, 253.770.0777, 

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