This weekend many area communities will be kicking off the Christmas season with many holiday events, including visits from Santa, community meals, holiday inn tours, holiday concerts and art exhibits. Experience the holidays with your local community, sharing the spirit of good will and the joy of Christmas.

Harmony

Breakfast with Santa will be held on Saturday, Dec. 1, from 8:30 to 10:30 at the Harmony Community Center. The Harmony Lions will be serving a breakfast of pancakes, sausages, juice, milk and coffee. The breakfast costs $4 for adults and $2 for children. Pictures with Santa will be taken from 9 to 10:30 a.m. and children will receive gifts and goodie bags.

Other events at the community center that morning will include a Christmas cookie and candy sale by the Greenfield Lutheran Church youth. The Fillmore Central ECFE will offer a shopping opportunity for youngsters, providing gifts for $3 and under.

Fillmore County Public Health is partnering with the Harmony Lions and the UCare Fund to host a free blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose screening at Breakfast with Santa, from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. To participate in the screening one must be 20 years of age or older; not currently receiving medical treatment for cholesterol or diabetes and must fast or not eat anything for 9 to 12 hours prior to the screening. One may drink plain water.

Later that morning, a free children's matinee will be shown at the JEM Theatre at 11 a.m. Watch the "Polar Express" and enjoy free popcorn courtesy of First Southeast Bank and Kingsley Mercantile.

On Saturday evening, at 7 p.m., the Tapestry Choirs at Fillmore Central will be hosting its annual holiday dinner concert at Wheelers Bar and Grill. Tapestry members will perform holiday selections such as "Come On, It's Christmas," "We Three Kings," "Hope is Born Again," "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town," and many more. The Fillmore Central Junior High Tapestry will be performing again this year. They will be singing the selections "Holiday Romance," "Boogie Woogie Santa," "Home on Christmas Day" and "Yes, Virginia." Tickets for the event are $20 per person and must be bought in advance. One may order tickets from any Tapestry member or you may contact Sarah Holten at the high school at (507) 886-6464, ext. 3203.

Mabel

Santa will be visiting Mabel on Saturday, Dec. 2, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Mabel Community Center. Enjoy hot dogs, chips, Christmas cookies and beverages provided by the Mabel Business Association. Get a photo taken with Santa and enjoy horse-drawn wagon rides, children's games and write your letter to Santa to send back to the North Pole with him so he has a list on file!

Spring Grove

The Family Holiday Craft Fair will be held in Spring Grove on Saturday, Dec. 1, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Fest Building in Spring Grove.

The craft fair will feature hand-crafted, unique and one-of-a-kind craft and gift items for the entire family. See the finest crafters and artisans around. Vendors specialize in furniture, jewelry, specialty clothing items, scarves, knitted items, bath and body products, baskets, specialty food items, holiday and home décor items.

Preston

Preston will also be hosting a breakfast with Santa on Saturday, Dec. 1, from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., in the Fillmore Central Elementary cafeteria. Children will be able to shop for their loved ones in the gift shop and there will be several crafts available to keep kids busy while waiting to share their wish lists with Santa. Those attending must make sure to visit with Santa's reindeer.

Lanesboro

On Saturday, Dec. 1, Enjoy unique shopping in downtown Lanesboro. From 1 to 4 p.m., attend the Plein-air painting demonstration at the Lanesboro Art Center with facilitator Joan Finnegan.

One will also be able to "Paint with Santa" on Saturday at Potiche Pottery and Gifts from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Bring your camera and paint an ornament with Santa. Cost is just $5.

Sample unique dining, attend the Lanesboro dinner dance from 6 to 10 p.m., or "A Christmas Carol" at the Commonweal (7:30 p.m.).

The Holiday Dinner Dance features live entertainment, a social hour with complimentary wine and great music from the Memory Brothers. Enjoy a scrumptious catered dinner. Eat, drink and be merry and dance the night away. For tickets, call (507) 467-2696.

The Lanesboro Christmas Inn Tour is Sunday, Dec. 2, from 2 to 6 p.m. and features 11 beautifully decorated inns.

This self-guided tour will take visitors through Victorian homes to European style farmhouses, all charmingly decorated for the holidays. Enjoy holiday treats and music as you discover the beauty and majesty of these historic homes.

Tour locations include Stone Mill Suites, Scandinavian Inn, Berwood Hill Inn, 1898 Inn, Anna V's B&B, Habberstad House, The Fillmore House B&B, Historic Scanlan House B&B, Art Lofts, Inn at Sacred Clay Farm and Hillcrest Hideaway B&B.

Tickets for the tour are $20 in advance or $25 the day of the event. For tickets or more information, call 800-944-2670, visit www.lanesboro.com or stop in to the Lanesboro Visitors Center.

Also on Sunday, The Commonweal Theatre presents a History of Lanesboro at 11 a.m. From 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. enjoy the sounds of the Dave O'Mara Jazz Ensemble at the Lanesboro Art Center.

Greenleafton

The Greenleafton Reformed Church will be the site of "A Christmas Dream" performed by The Silent Messengers on Saturday, Dec. 1, beginning at 5 p.m.

The Silent Messengers are a group from Baldwin, Wis., that uses clowning to share the story of Christ. It began with a small group of junior high kids and one performance about Jesus' crucifixion. It then developed into a one-hour long service depicting the various points of Jesus' life using approximately 24 different songs. Now, the group consists of more than 30 junior high and senior high students as well as a few adults.

"The Christmas Dream" is an hour-long service celebrating the story of Jesus' birth. Performers remain "silent" throughout the service and pray that God uses them as messengers to bring the promise of salvation to all who believe.

"This is not the traditional comedy that most people associate clowning with, but rather a drama," explained founder Jenifer Lokker. "Our clowns have white faces and use color to portray symbols of their characters. There are no speaking parts so we use many different types of Christian music to share points of Jesus' life."

A soup supper will be served after the performance. There will be a free-will offering taken during the performance and the soup supper is free.

Wykoff

Christmas house tours will be held throughout the community of Wykoff on Saturday, Dec. 1, from 1 to 5 p.m. Homes on the tour are owned by David and Darlene Eickhoff and Janet Nolan. Tickets are $5 and are available in advance at The Bank Gift Haus or at Ed's Museum on the day of the tour.

Open houses will also be held that day at the Gateway Inn, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., and at the Bank Gift Haus, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

On Sunday, Dec. 2, at 7 p.m. St. John's Lutheran Church in Wykoff will be the site of a concert "Twas the Birthday of a King", featuring Dr. Ray Krueger, Novella Meisner, Ron Haugen and the Misty Mountain Boys. Donations are welcome and refreshments will be served. The event is sponsored by the Wykoff Area Historical Society.

Sonya Meyerhofer and Lissa Blake also contributed information for this article.