RUTLEDGE - It started in a barn 28 years ago, but now it's a townwide event known to locals as the start of the holiday season.
The 28th Annual Christmas in the Country in downtown Rutledge will take place Nov. 16-18.
"It's just a time to dress the shops and introduce the holidays to all the townspeople and people in surrounding areas," said Pam Jones, chairwoman and founder of the event.
Santa Claus, entertainment, food, fun and shopping are all part of the weekend-long event, which is free.
Hours are Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, noon- 5 p.m.
In addition to the holiday items offered by downtown merchants, artists and crafters will set up shop in the city park with their handmade wares, weather permitting.
City Hall will be turned into North Pole, which, of course, wouldn't be complete without Santa and Mrs. Claus. A photographer will be on duty to take photos on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.
Social Circle Christian School at First Baptist Church will hold a Christmas Bazaar at Centennial Baptist Church just outside of Rutledge at 5321 Brownwood Road on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The bazaar will include a variety of shops, food and entertainment. An auction will be held at 11 a.m. featuring items donated from local businesses.
Local craftswoman Mary Sue Alexander will continue the annual tradition of opening her home to showcase and sell the handmade gifts she prepares for the holiday season.
Gentle Giant Carriage Co. will have a horse and carriage available for hire next to the city park on Saturday and Sunday.
On Sunday, author Sy Alexander will hold a book signing at Barn Raising Antiques and give readings from her latest release, "Pinksta and the Polka Dotted Pinstripe Pants-Wearing Princess."
There will be live entertainment throughout the weekend in the city park.
Jones said everyone is welcome.
"We have people from all over. Come to Rutledge and let us help you welcome the holidays," she said.
To get to Rutledge, take I-20 East to exit 105; turn left and follow Hard Labor Creek State Park signs to downtown Rutledge.
Crystal Tatum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.