EVART — Christmas kicked off in Evart on Saturday as children and adults gathered for a day filled with a variety of fun activities.

Hundreds of children lined up to see Santa and participate in the many different events during Evart’s annual Christmas carnival which is the kick off to Christmas in a Small Town.

Melody Walker and her daughter Abby, 8, of Big Rapids, enjoyed many of the activities offered.

“This is a good place to bring children to see Santa,” Walker said. “This is our second year. We were excited to come down and so excited to see what they are doing here in the community.”

Organizers estimate nearly 1,000 people from the area braved the cold temperatures and gathered at the Evart Depot and Crossroads Community Church to participate in the free event. Activities included hay rides, pony rides, family portraits, hot chocolate, hot dogs and much more.

The festival has been a part of Evart’s holiday season for more than two decades. The festival has been organized by Crossroads Community Church, the City of Evart, Spring Hill Camps and the Evart Area Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s all about the community coming together,” said Rob Rounds, pastor of Crossroads Community Church. “The city always has Santa here and we decided to partner with the city in hopes of making this a family friendly community activity.”

Spring Hill donated the use of its equipment for the one-day festival along with many other activities for the children. Children were jumping high on the Euro-Bungee and other children lined up to ride the ponies.

“This is our first time we came her,” said Dawne Dack of Evart. “Hannah loves horses, so, of course we had to stop for the ponies.”

In the spirit of family togetherness, families can complete activities together and even enjoy a bon fire with marshmallows to roast.

“It’s nice to have a community do something like this for its residents,” Dack said.