Memories of cookies and cider, sleigh rides, homemade gifts and ornaments, and warm gatherings of friends and family are all part of the spirit of Christmas in the region. Ozark National Scenic Riverways will celebrate the holiday season with special open house events at Van Buren, Eminence and Akers in December.

A Christmas Open House will be held at the Van Buren Visitor Center from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday.

“We are turning back the clock to a simpler time, decorating our official park Christmas tree with traditional, old fashioned Ozark ornaments made by the Van Buren and East Carter third grade students. Handwritten stories about the students’ favorite Ozark Christmas traditions will also be on display for visitors to enjoy. Stop by to savor hot chocolate with plenty of holiday cheer,” said a spokesperson.

The visitor center is at 404 Watercress Drive in Van Buren.

An Ozark Christmas Celebration is 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday at Alley Spring. The historic Alley Mill, Storys Creek School and General Store will all be decorated in the holiday fashion. Alley Mill will be open during the event and will feature Christmas trees adorned with handmade ornaments created by the fourth grade classes from local schools. A unique traditional tree ornament will be made.

Families can sip hot chocolate while listening to traditional Christmas music. Ole Saint Nick himself might even stop by and join in the festivities. Alley Spring is six miles west of Eminence, on Highway 106.

An Akers Holiday Celebration will be at the Mt, Zion Church from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday. Music will be provided and people with a connection to the Akers community will have an opportunity to share holiday stories from long ago. All are invited to attend and learn more about Christmas celebrations on the Current River. Items for a special display about the Akers Community will be provided by the Shannon County Museum.

Attendees are encouraged to bring a special ornament and a memory (picture or story) to share.

Mt. Zion Church is approximately one-half mile north of Akers Ferry on Highway K in northern Shannon County.

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