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Church presents live nativity
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The congregation at Bethel Baptist Church will present its annual holiday production this weekend.

Now in its 25th year, the 13-scene live nativity will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Visitors will board tractor-drawn wagons to embark on a trip to a time when shepherds watched over the flocks by night and angels spread the news of Christ's birth.

Director Tracy Phillips said the production, which takes much of the year to prepare, is an elaborate undertaking that involves the church's entire congregation, along with family and friends.

"Our first year, we probably had 35 or 40 people participate. This year, we'll have as many as 200," he said. "We'll also have live animals, like sheep and a donkey."

The number of visitors attending the live event has also grown exponentially over the last few holiday seasons, with more than 1,500 taking the journey last year.

"We've been told that the production has become a holiday tradition for some families," Phillips said.

Initially, the production was held in the church cemetery, but is now scattered across 40 acres in the woods behind the church.

"When you arrive, you'll board a wagon for a hayride through the woods," Phillips said. "It takes about 45 minutes for the full show, but it's all outside, so dress for the weather."

Afterwards, in the spirit of the season, the church will also provide dinner for its guests.

Soups, chili and warm beverages are served both nights in the church fellowship hall.

Bethel Baptist Church is located in northwest Dawson County at the intersection of Hwy. 136 West and Shoal Creek Road.

Admission is free.