Live Nativity scenes

When Penny Drain first participated in Newport United Methodist Church’s living nativity more than 50 years ago, it was an annual event.

Today, it’s held every other year, but it’s still looked forward to by the community.

“People ask for it – ‘Are you going to do the pageant this year?'” Drain said.

Newport’s living nativity is one of three taking place in the area this weekend. It will feature live animals, more than a dozen cast members and a choir made up of church members.

“It’s just the congregation coming together and singing the songs they’ve sung all their lives,” Drain said.

The pageant will be presented at 5:30, 6, 6:30 and 7 p.m. Sunday in front of the church at 420 Greene St., Newport. There is no charge for admission, with people invited simply to “come and remember the birth of Christ,” Drain said. “This is for the community and the surrounding communities.”

On Sunday and Monday, Sweetapple Farm in Vincent will present its own live nativity for the 12th time.

“We started this as something to do to invite the community to the farm, free of charge, and get back to an old-fashioned Christmas,” said farm owner Mona Barrett.

Farm employees and members of Living Faith United Methodist Church and Lighthouse Baptist Church, both in Vincent, will appear in the scene and sing traditional Christmas carols. Barrett said those in attendance are invited to join in as well, noting the singing is casual and unrehearsed and there are additional costumes available.

“It just takes a minute to slide on over the clothes that they’re wearing,” she said.

The program will take place at 6:20 and 7:20 p.m. each evening in the barn, but the farm is open from 5:30 to 8 p.m., including the market, which will offer refreshments like hot chocolate. Santa and Mrs. Claus will also be on hand during that time.

There is no charge for admission, but donations will be accepted for the Western Washington County Food Pantry.

Sandy Pickrell, 68, of Layman, is a friend of the Barrett family who has participated in the nativity for the last three years. She usually sings, while her son’s family portrays characters in the nativity.

“It’s enjoyable,” Pickrell said. “It’s always good to be able to praise the Lord and welcome his birth.”

Living Faith member Linda Jameson, 75, has joined with fellow church members at the event for about 10 years.

“I have been Mary … and either that or an angel or wise man,” she said. “I get a great joy out of seeing a lot of attendance. Some people come from Parkersburg and even farther away.”

Second Congregational Church, at 1855 Greene St., half a mile past the Social Security office on Ohio 26, will present its living nativity at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. A representative of the church could not be reached for comment Wednesday.