Hoping to remind the public of the real reason for the Christmas season, Sharon Baptist Church of Winfield will present it sixth annual Hayride Through the Life of Christ on Dec. 6-9 at the Columbia County Fairgrounds.
"It is just a wonderful experience," said Jean Kelly, the play's publicity coordinator. "And it's all free -- even the hot chocolate."
Kelly said that while riding on hay wagons pulled by tractors, guests are taken through scenes of Jesus' life, from the Nativity to the Resurrection.
Humans aren't the only actors.
"We have live animals as part of the play, too," Kelly said. "And each year it's a little different. There's always something new."
Sharon Baptist Pastor Andy Collins and his mother, Kathy Collins, wrote the play six years ago after a hayride in which they saw holiday dcor, but nothing really focusing on the true meaning of Christmas.
"We decided to do a play with biblical characters in it," the pastor said. "And our whole intention was to do a portrait of why Jesus came and what he accomplished, but at the same time, we cover more than just the Christmas story. We begin with the prophets, Isaiah predicting Christ's coming, and go on to the Nativity scene.
"The play moves on to Jesus growing up, showing him in a carpenter's shop, and we meet several other characters from the Bible as well," Collins said.
The characters talk to the audience, Collins said, and give their perspective on what is going on in each scene. The play concludes with a personal testimony from a church member.
"It is a great ministry," Collins said. "We have a lot of fun with it. And it takes so many people to put it all on, for which we are very grateful, including to the Merchants Association, who so kindly donated the use of the fairgrounds.
"In the six years that we have been putting on the play, we have performed it for about 7,000 people; over 2,000 just last year alone. This year we are expecting about 2,500."
Hours for the hayrides are from 7 to 9:30 p.m.
Kelly warned that it can be chilly, so visitors should dress warmly. For more information, call Kelly at (706) 541-1532, or Collins at (706) 541-066.
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