Brian Harding conducts the mass choir during their first rehearsal for the 52nd annual Christmas Carol Festival. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)

Brian Harding conducts the mass choir during their first rehearsal for the 52nd annual Christmas Carol Festival. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)

Carol festival returns to Agassiz for 52nd year

The annual concert will feature a number of choirs, as well as soloists and instrumental groups

The annual Community Christmas Carol Festival will be returning to Agassiz’s Agricultural Hall for the 52nd year this December.

“I’m not sure there’s too many things other than the Fall Fair that have gone on that long,” said Brian Harding, music director at Agassiz United Church and this year’s carol festival organizer.

The festival, started in 1967 by Hilde Funk and Fred Abma, first began as a collaboration of church choirs sharing the music of the holiday season. Concerts were held in Agassiz’s church halls, but over the years the festival grew until it expanded into the Agricultural Hall.

RELATED: Fifty years of Agassiz carols

This year, the concert will take place on Thursday, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. and feature performances from the 40-member mass choir, the Agassiz Christian School choir and the Kent Elementary choir, as well as choral groups from St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, the United Church and the Christian Reformed Church. The concert will also feature at least one soloist, and instrumental performances from the AESS band and possibly Unity Christian School.

A staple of the festival is also the 12 carols sung by the audience themselves — an outpouring of holiday spirit that keeps Harding involved in the festival year after year.

“I really love the Christmas season, and I really love it from the point of view of the Christmas story … and I feel this promotes that over the rest of it,” Harding said. “We have lots of exposure to Santa Claus, sleigh bells and chestnuts roasting on an open fire. This is the aspect of Christmas that really touches me.”

The carol festival “promotes it, and I think (for us) as a community, sharing it is a really valuable thing.”

Admission to the carol festival is free, thanks to the donated space by the Agassiz Agricultural and Horticultural Society, the donated sound system by Central Church and the donated time from musicians and volunteers. A goodwill offering will be taken for Agassiz-Harrison Community Services.

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