ELKO — The Elko Regional Interfaith Christmas Crèche Exhibit begins in less than two months under the direction of Sandy Ballard.

Ballard was recently named as the as new director and committee chairman of the event, replacing James R. Cooper, who had served as both assistant chairman and chairman since the beginning of the event in 2005.

Although relatively new to the area and the exhibit, Ballard is very excited to be involved in Crèche Exhibit and hopes to continue growing what has become a tradition in the community and throughout the region.

Ballard is from St. George, Utah, and moved to Elko with her husband, Tim, and two children in 2013. She has been a business owner — two photography studios and a craft store, and also enjoys music, playing sports, DIY projects, and crafts.

Since high school, Ballard has had many opportunities to be involved in community events, musical performances, and volunteer programs.

“I feel that serving and learning can be continual lifetime fulfillments,” she said.

“My family and I have enjoyed attending the exhibit and amazing music performances ever since we moved here four years ago. We love seeing the new Nativities each year, and try to locate our favorites we saw from the year before.

“We also enjoy meeting people from the community who are attending for the first time, and to see their faces light up when they see the number and uniqueness of the Nativities displayed. It’s a beautiful way to begin the Christmas season,” says Ballard.

Ballard’s vision for the Crèche this year is to see more of the community attend and participate in the exhibit and the performances. She encourages those who have attended or participated in the exhibit before to personally invite friends and neighbors, especially those who have recently moved to the area, or haven’t attended yet.

When the Ballards moved to Elko, it was the week before the exhibit and they received personal invitations from those who helped them move into their house. Their first experience of the exhibit was a performance by the Elko Handbells, which was so beautiful it moved members of her family to tears. From that time forward, she and her family became fans of the exhibit.

Ballard welcomes all volunteers who would like to be a part of the Crèche Exhibit, to share their talents, assistance, or time to help make this another great year.

“It’s the little things, like helping and including others, that really bring people and neighborhoods together,” she said.

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Those wishing to help may volunteer through justserve.org.

The highlighted feature of this year’s exhibit will be the Star of Bethlehem, which is often depicted as an eight-pointed star with a tail.

“I really felt that the Star was not only the sign given for Christ’s birth, but it was the one thing that was shown to everyone around the world, as a guide for all to come unto Christ,” Ballard said.

Along with Nativities and Nativity-themed items and artwork, the exhibit is looking for the community to bring items that depict the Star of Bethlehem either on its own, or as part of their Nativity display. The Nativities and Star of Bethlehem could be figurines, tree toppers, artwork, quilts or banners, ornaments, family keepsakes, or hand-crafted items. Anything that depicts part of the Christmas story is welcome.

Set up of Nativities is Nov. 29. Those wishing to share and display Nativities and Stars of Bethlehem at the exhibit may do so by bringing their items to the church anytime from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The 13th Annual Exhibit opens Nov. 30, at 11 a.m. and runs through Dec. 3, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 3001 N. Fifth St. The Spring Creek High School High Expectations Choir kicks off the live musical performances Thursday evening at 5 p.m.

Additional information about the exhibit and a complete musical performance schedule are available at www.elko.creche.org, facebook.com/elkocreche, or by contacting Sandy Ballard at 435-680-0978.

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