Step Back, Step Out with Holiday Events at State Parks, Historic Sites

A Christmas carriage arrives at the First Missouri State Capitol State Historic Site in St. Charles.

Here is a recipe for a delicious Christmas celebration – a French feast with 13 different desserts.

That’s the menu at the Felix Valle House State Historic Site in Ste. Genevieve from 1 p.m.-6 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 9. The free event, called Le Reveillon, re-creates the customs of a French Christmas from the 1830s, when Felix Valle and his wife, Odile, lived in the house.

During the event, the house is lit with candles, live folk music is played on a hammered dulcimer in the parlor, and the staff dresses in period costumes to explain French traditions.

And don’t worry, the public gets to sample the 13 desserts.

The Felix Valle House is one of eight state parks or historic sites celebrating the holiday season with special events – from winter hikes to visits with Santa. Along the way, flaming plum pudding, plenty of treats and hot cocoa are served.

First Missouri State Capitol State Historic Site in the Missouri River town of St. Charles has a full schedule. Events include candlelight Christmas concerts on two evenings in the legislative chambers and historic games, toys and novelties for sale in an old-fashion store.

Geoffrey Seitz & the Dugout Canoe perform traditional music on the mandolin and fiddle at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 15. The Buckhannon Bros. perform traditional music at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 22. Tickets for each show are $8 and are available at the historic site.

Also at first Missouri State Capitol State Historic site, the 1823 poem “The Night Before Christmas” is recited on the hour starting at noon on Sunday, Dec. 16. The last reading begins at 5 p.m. During the story, warm cider and cookies are served. Mr. and Mrs. Claus are expected. Reservations are not needed, but are recommended, as space is limited at the free event.

The Peck Bros. Dry Goods and Hardware store is open for candlelight shopping 5 p.m.-9 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 19, and again on Friday, Dec. 21. Candlelight tours of the First Capitol building are given from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the same two evenings. Interpreters in historic clothing tell of Missouri’s early statehood struggles and frontier life.

For information on the First Capitol events, call 636-940-3322.

Here are events scheduled at the other six parks or historic sites:

Watkins Woolen Mill State Park and State Historic Site in Lawson: Christmas on the Farm is 2 p.m.-7 p.m. on Dec. 1. The free event features an open house at the Watkins family home, with caroling, a visit from Father Christmas and holiday treats, such as cookies and plum pudding made from Watkins family recipes. The visitor center offers children’s crafts and holiday music.

Vintage ornaments decorate the Christmas tree at Deutschheim State Historic Site in Hermann.

Deutschheim State Historic Site in Hermann: Weihnachtsfest, a traditional 19th-century German Christmas celebration, is held 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 1-2 and Dec. 8-9. The free event is in the 1840 Pommer-Gentner House, which is decorated with authentic ornaments and toys from the 1800s. Enjoy German Christmas cookies and a gift shop featuring cookie molds, rolling pins and recipe books.

Hunter-Dawson State Historic Site in New Madrid: Free candlelight tours of the 15-room mansion are given 6 p.m.-8:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Dec. 14-15. The house is decorated in Victorian style and illuminated by oil lamps and candles. Staff dressed in historic clothing welcome guests and serve refreshments.

Crowder State Park near Trenton: The park staff leads a Winter Wonderland Hike from 10 a.m.-noon on Friday, Dec. 21, the first day of winter. After the hike, enjoy Christmas and nature stories while you make a craft to take home. Call 660-359-6473 to make reservations and for information.

Dillard Mill State Historic Site south of Steelville: Santa Claus passes out goodies at this picturesque mill from noon-2 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 15. The staff serves home-baked cookies and hot cocoa. Visitors are invited to walk through the mill. Dress warm and bring a camera for photos with Santa.

Battle of Lexington State Historic Site in Lexington: Christmas 1862, a Nation Divided, is 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1, and noon-5 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 2. Friends of the Anderson House create a Civil War-era Christmas in the battle-scarred mansion Saturday evening. On Sunday, the decorated house is open to the public and refreshments are served. The site is participating in the Lexington Christmas Homes Tour.

Story and photos by Tom Uhlenbrock, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Division of State Parks. For more information, visit MoStateParks.com.

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