The city of Durant, Oklahoma is already in the Christmas spirit. The inaugural Magnolia Christmas Festival began Friday at the Choctaw Event Center.

The festival will continue from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday at 3702 Choctaw Rd., Durant. Admission for the event is free.

“We did not have a Christmas event for the area vendors and small businesses in this area,” Durant Area Chamber of Commerce Director Janet Reed said. “The vendors that worked at the Magnolia Festival over the summer are the ones that really helped put this event together.”

The Magnolia Christmas Fest will feature shopping booths; food vendors including Choctaw Seniors’ Indian Tacos; live and local entertainment; photos with Santa; and children’s activities sponsored by Choctaw Country.

“This event will offer some very unique shopping and some great food that people can either sample or that they can pre-order food for their holiday meals,” Reed said.

Reed said this event will be held before Thanksgiving because Durant wants to help people get the jump on Christmas shopping and the city hopes to reach people before they begin their holiday traveling.

“This event will really bring people together, and we want to be pre-emptive on the holiday shopping,” she said. “We will also be featuring some of the mom-and-pop businesses from downtown.”

This festival differs from the summertime Magnolia Festival that Durant hosts because there will be no carnival. However, Reed said there will be enough going on that people probably will not miss it.

“Come to Durant,” Reed said. “We have a lot of unique things. We have some excellent shopping and some great food, and after you finish at the festival, you can go to the casino or visit one of our area movie theaters.”

“We started a new scholarship,” Durant Area Chamber of Commerce Director Janet Reed said. “All of the proceeds from this festival will go towards the Jon Hazell Magnolia Festival Education Scholarship Fund.”

Reed said the chamber hopes to endow this four-year full scholarship for a student that will join an Oklahoma college’s education program. The scholarship recipient also must teach in Oklahoma after college.

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