The Holiday of Lights show put on by the 4-H Exchange Club recently began. The lights will be available to see every weekend until Christmas. (DHI Media/ File Photo/ Kirsten Barnhart)
The Holiday of Lights show put on by the 4-H Exchange Club recently began. The lights will be available to see every weekend until Christmas. (DHI Media/ File Photo/ Kirsten Barnhart)

VAN WERT – One of the community’s favorite summertime celebration spots, the Van Wert County Fairgrounds, transitioned into a twinkling winter wonderland as the Van Wert County 4-H Exchange Club set up for this year’s drive-thru Christmas lights display, which opened on Wednesday, Nov. 21.

After opening night, the event runs Thursday-Sunday nights until Dec. 9, then every day from Dec. 13 to Dec. 25 from 6-9 p.m.

This year’s show marks the 11th year of the light show. In 2007, the event started with only 13 displays and 500 vehicles drove through. This year’s show has 110-plus displays and the event is expected to host 3,500 vehicles. Exhibits are themed around the holidays and are supplied by local businesses, individuals, churches and clubs.

The advisor for the group, Jay Gamble, and the kids who work nearly 36 hours to put the display together, are extremely pleased to see the growth of the event, and would love to see it remain an affordable seasonal activity.

“Myself, the kids, and the other advisors just feel like this can be a great community event that is a low cost and can be a family tradition year after year,” Gamble said.

Many, however, are not aware what the proceeds of the event are used toward. The proceeds from this event, as well as two pork dinner events, go toward the money needed to fund trips to work with other 4-H exchange clubs.

Some of the states the club has traveled to include Kansas, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Montana. This year’s group traveled to Boise, Idaho.

To travel, the members pay only for checked baggage, insurance, and any souvenirs they may want. The Club pays for meals and the main travel expenses. The event also funds other 4-H Exchange Clubs when they visit Ohio.

The event has been able to grow over the years thanks to generosity of local businesses and donated displays from the Baughman family of Paulding County.

“I think this year we’re going to have five new displays,” said Gamble “The Baughman family donated some more to us and they’ve really helped us grow over the years.”

The car drive-thru is not the only experience available. Santa Claus stops by every Saturday night of the event. Also, on Dec. 7 and 8, guests can take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the lights for $7 per car load.

Prices are $5 per carload and $25 for oversized vehicles/buses. For those who can’t get enough of the fascinating displays, a $10 decal pass for unlimited trips will be available, while supplies last.

Follow and “like” the event on Facebook by searching “4-H Exchange Club Holiday Light Show.”