By Heather Cameron
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
A long-standing tradition in the area, the 2023 Taber Live Nativity Pageant took place on December 17-18 at the Cornfest Stage in Confederation Park.
“The Pageant is put on each year as a public service to the community to help others remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ,” said Kyle Bullock, one of the volunteer coordinators for the Live Nativity Pageant. “It’s our way of sharing the love of the Saviour Jesus Christ during this time of year.”
There were four shows per night, Bullock says, and they took place every half hour with approximately 900 people in total attending the event over the two nights.
Bullock says that this year’s show was put on by the Barnwell 2nd Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“The responsibility of putting on the pageant is shared by rotating each year between the different wards (congregations) of our Church,” said Bullock. “This allows everyone to be a part of it. Primarily youth aged 12-18 take on the roles of Mary, Joseph, Angels, Shepherds, and Wisemen. Their youth leaders help to organize costumes and arrange the sets. There are many other people in and around the community who also help with things like advertising, trailers, hay bales, and of course, bringing the donkey and sheep. The live animals are a hit with the kids and always keep us all on our toes! The Town and M.D. of Taber have also been very supportive in allowing the use of the stage, bleachers, and administrative building.”
Bullock says that the Live Pageant event itself first began in Grassy Lake in 1978 and in 2011 it was moved to Taber, with the first few years being performed outside of the Taber Stake Centre on 50 Avenue before eventually being moved to the Cornfest Stage.
“We love hearing comments after the shows or on social media about how much people love coming out each year,” said Bullock. “For many, it’s become their family tradition. It’s great seeing new people come out for their first time, too. Not only is it about the pageant, but it’s also about gathering together, catching up with friends, and enjoying the special feeling of the season. Josh Antoniuk and I have been involved with coordinating volunteers for the pageant for the past two years. The first year was bitter cold, around -35 degrees, but the show went on anyways. We only did one night and had around 300 people attend. This year looked very different with temperatures being comfortably above zero, without any snow. When it comes to comparing the two years, I liked them both for different reasons, but definitely welcomed the warmer weather this time! I love watching people as they come and help set up, participate in, or watch the performances as spectators. Everyone is smiling and happy to be there. Some people I know, many I don’t, but there’s always a special feeling there. One of my favourite things is to sit with my kids between shows in the stable and take a few quiet moments to reflect and talk as they take turns holding the baby doll in the manger. They’re getting bigger, so there may not be as many times to enjoy that.”