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Church to present live Christmas nativity
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Bethel Baptist Church in Dawsonville will be performing its annual live Christmas nativity this weekend.

The program takes guests along on a tractor-drawn wagon through the woods behind the church, where the congregation has staged scenes depicting the story of Christ.

In the church's 29th performance of the story, Director Tracy Phillips said the program will contain 10 scenes that span from the prophecy of Jesus' birth through the resurrection. Pulled along on the 45-minute journey, participants will see live animals and actors dressed as angels, shepherds and other biblical characters.

A long standing tradition for many in the community, the event draws large enough crowds that there is often a substantial wait to see the nativity.

"We have six wagons that go through the program, and each year we've added more seats to them to try to accommodate the crowds," Phillips said. "But every year there are more people, and short of buying newer, bigger wagons or shortening the scenes there isn't much we can do about the line."

Last year a little more than 2,000 people attended the annual event, according to Philips.

Philips said the farthest he's seen anyone come through the program was someone visiting from Alaska, but that most years a number of church groups from surrounding states will make the journey to see the Nativity.

"The other day, we had someone from Elberton come ask if we were going to do the show again," Phillips said. "People make it part of their holiday traditions."

Taking around 200 people and a year of preparation to pull off the event, the nativity is a congregation-wide effort by Bethel Baptist.

"It takes everyone in the church to put it on, and we still recruit people," Phillips said.

The program is free to attend and will be held on Friday Dec. 9 and Saturday Dec. 10 from 6 to 9 p.m. Guests are advised to dress warmly.

After the show guests are invited to have dinner in the church fellowship hall. The free meal will include soup, chili, sandwiches and other refreshments.