By Heather Regula, Correspondent
The third annual Christmas on the Chisholm Trail, “An Old Fashioned Christmas,” took place in downtown Belton, from 12 p.m. – 7 p.m., on Saturday, December 2. The festivities, a combined effort between the City of Belton and the Downtown Belton Merchants’ Association (DBMA), grew a record number of people to the downtown area and served as an unofficial kickoff to the Christmas season.
“Belton is the epitome of a small town, and this is the epitome of a small town Christmas. I love seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces! The people here today aren’t just Belton citizens – they are coming here from all over,” exclaimed Belton Mayor Marion Grayson.
Christmas on the Chisholm Trail attendees enjoyed a one of a kind experience that is unique to downtown Belton – an area that has managed to hold on to its charm and small-town appeal while attracting more and more visitors.
“This is a great event, with a great turnout! Christmas on the Chisholm Trail gets bigger and better each year! This is a collaborative effort with DBMA, and this event has grown each year,” explained Matt Bates, Director of Parks and Recreation. “Belton is a beautiful backdrop for an event like this. The City is happy to help bring people to our town to partake in the festivities.”
More than 120 vendors, occupying over 140 spots, lined the streets of downtown Belton. Many local businesses held special events and sales, while several choirs and musical groups from Belton ISD performed for the crowd. The tantalizing smells from food trucks, and the sounds of live music and people mingling filled the air. The Masonic Lodge #166 and the Belton Chapter #589, Order of the Eastern Star, paired up to provide some tasty treats and homemade crafts.
“Today isn’t just about fundraising – it’s about being out in our community – talking with people, and enjoying the day. We have been selling turkey legs and corn on the cob, but we have completely sold out! Our next major event will be Christmas Baskets – we put together ten boxes full of $100 worth of groceries, including a cooked turkey, for families in need in our community,” explained Ron Zimmerman, Master of Belton Masonic Lodge #166.
Victoria Buckner, the owner of Hound and Hares, was a first-time vendor at this year’s Christmas on the Chisholm Trail.
“This is our first time to be a vendor at this event. We have been selling a lot of our heated rice bags, and our dining scarves today,” said Buckner. “My mom makes the dining scarves, and they are a cross between a vest and a bib – they drape around your neck and protect your clothes while you eat. Some people have bought them for older people in their family, but we have also had some younger people purchase them – they seem to be a hit with all ages!”
The inflatables booth, run by Belton Youth Advisory Commission members Addi Ross and Serena Shedore, featured a slide and a bounce house. Unlimited bouncing, from 12 p.m. – 5 p.m., was available with the purchase of a $5 wristband. The price lowered to $2 per wristband, for unlimited bouncing, from 5 p.m.-7 p.m. Tasha and Dan Ropers relaxed on the back bumper of a firetruck while their 7-year-old son Austin bounced on the inflatables.
“Christmas on the Chisholm Trail is a neat event, and we have enjoyed ourselves today. The weather has been beautiful, and there are a lot of people here,” said Tasha Roberts.
Carol Leinart of Belton brought her family to partake in Saturday’s activities.
“I love this Christmas event! We come here every year. My 13-year-old granddaughter Kylee sang with the North Belton Middle School choir today, and that was so great to watch! These kind of events are incredible and are so worth coming to town for,” stated Leinart.
The Christmas Parade started at 6 p.m. and closed out the day’s festivities. Hundreds of people lined Central Avenue, anxious to catch a glimpse of the parade and Santa. Wanda O’Quain, of Harker Heights, was attending the parade for the first time.
“My friend, Sherlynn Burkett, opened an antique and fashion boutique called Scbfashions & MOre in downtown Belton. We attended Christmas on the Chisholm Trail today and supported her by stopping by her store. I haven’t ever seen this side of Belton before, and I feel like I learned a lot,” explained O’Quain. “I’m excited to see the old theater downtown – we will be back to visit that for sure! I learned that Belton is a cute, quiet little town with a lot to offer!”
Rebekka Batchelor was attending the parade with her 4-year-old daughter, Aliyah. Batchelor shared O’Quain’s sentiment regarding Belton.
“We have been to the 4th of July Parade twice, and this is the first time coming to the Christmas Parade. My husband is in the Army, and I have two teenagers,” stated Batchelor. “We loved the small town charm of Belton and the reputation of Belton ISD schools is what convinced us to move here!”
Christmas on the Chisholm Trail typically takes place on the first Saturday in December and a highly anticipated and largely attended event.
Photos courtesy of Christopher Winston.