Decorating tree for Winter Wonderland

Leah Hendrix and Casey Eakins decorate a Christmas tree on Tuesday morning at the JoyFest Winter Wonderland on Monroe Street in downtown Jonesboro.

JONESBORO — Christmas cheer is in the air in downtown Jonesboro as the lights and decorations go up for the Downtown Jonesboro’s JoyFest this weekend.

JoyFest will kick-off at 4 p.m. on Saturday at the corner of Union and Monroe streets in downtown Jonesboro. There will be live performances, shopping, rides, the annual Christmas tree lighting and more.

“I always loved taking my kids to see the Christmas lights and things of that nature,” Sarah Rickert, Downtown Jonesboro Alliance events director, said on Tuesday while helping to set up the Winter Wonderland. “I wanted to do something in downtown Jonesboro to help spread the cheer of the season and bring people in to see our beautiful downtown.”

Rickert came up with the idea for JoyFest three years ago when she decided to contact Lindsey Wingo, Downtown Jonesboro Alliance executive director, who Rickert added “loved the idea.”

“It started small in 2019 but in 2020 we went all out,” Rickert said, “COVID-19 had really made things seem so crazy. We wanted to help warm hearts and share the delight of the season in a safe way. It was amazing to see the tremendous joy that it brought the community. It had seemed like it had been so long since we had heard kids laughing and truly happy.”

Rickert added that JoyFest is going to be even bigger this year.

Wingo said the goal is to get people downtown and to attract people to our businesses.

“We want people to look at the downtown as a hub for our community,” Wingo said. “It’s great place to gather and celebrate. It is important for them to see that downtown can be fun for people of all ages.”

The opening night will be broadcast live on Facebook and YouTube. It will be hosted by Craig Rickert, Allison McDaniel and Christie Matthews.

This year there are events planned for the kick-off night which include:

Live holiday performances such as: The Foundation of Arts’ holiday songs by The City Youth children and Folkknot; a holiday-themed Broadway concert with the Link Theater which will feature Matt Cavenaugh, Jenny Powers and more; and the Cory Jackson Acoustic Christmas Concert.

The lighting of the 64-foot Christmas tree.

Vendors at the Christmas Village complete with snow machines to delight children of all ages and food trucks of all kinds.

Santa station.

Life-size snow-globe.

4-H petting zoo.

Three separate picture stations located at the Christmas village, Santa station, and life-size snow-globe.

Other attractions will include:

The Ferris wheel at $3 per person.

The ice skating rink at $5 per person.

The Holiday Train Lane at $2 per person.

JoyFest Trail of Trees at the Winter Wonderland, which is free.

These attractions will continue throughout the month of Dec.:

The Holiday Train and Winter Wonderland that will be open from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday through Dec 23.

The skating rink that will be open from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday through Dec. 23 and reopen after Christmas on Dec. 29-30 from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Dec. 31 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.; and Jan. 2 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The Ferris wheel that will be open Thursday through Sunday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. through Dec. 19.

“We started preparing for JoyFest back in October,” said Brandon Shrader, city parks and ceremonies superintendent, “and worked the entire month of November to get everything set up and ready because it has grown so much.”