A holiday house-decorating contest is being sponsored by PRIDE in Paxton. To be considered for the contest, homes should be lit up and decorated between 6 and 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13, when judges will be driving around town to select the winners.

The  Ford County Historical Society’s Water Tower Museum, located behind Paxton City Hall, will close for the winter on Saturday, Nov. 24, and will reopen in the spring on April 27. The museum is open Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. To arrange a visit during the months that the museum is closed, people can call 217-379-3723 or 217-379-4111. There is no admission charge.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 6289 in Gibson City is accepting names of people in the community to receive Christmas baskets, as well as donations to fund the purchase of items to be placed in those Christmas baskets. Names and donations will be accepted until Dec. 15 at the VFW post, located at 122 S. Lott Blvd. The VFW post is open starting at 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and starting at 1 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, people can call 217-784-4210.

The Elliott Amvets will hold a mountain oyster fry at noon on the last Saturday of each month — Dec. 22, Jan. 26, Feb. 23, March 23, April 27 and May 25.  Meals cost $10 per person and include mountain oysters, gizzards and livers.  For more information, people can call 217-419-0247.

The Foosland Sportmen’s Club will host splatterboard shoots on Dec. 9, Jan. 1, Feb. 10, March 10 and April 14. Each splatterboard shoot starts at 8 a.m., with a cooked-to-order breakfast offered beforehand starting at 6 a.m. After each shoot, there will be an "Annie" tournament starting around 10:30 a.m. Lunch will be available for those staying for the "Annie" tournament. Also, on Jan. 1, a raffle will be conducted at 1 p.m. for a Kimber .45-caliber handgun.

The Elliott Amvets will hold Family Night meals on Dec. 7, Jan. 4, Feb. 1, March 1, April 5 and May 3.

MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meets from 9 to 11 a.m. on the third Friday of each month at the Paxton Church of the Nazarene, 302 W. State St., Paxton. Meetings will be held Dec. 21, Jan. 18, Feb. 15, March 15, on a date to be determined in April and on May 17. Each meeting includes breakfast, crafts and discussion on relevant topics, with childcare provided. The group is open to mothers of all experience levels. Annual dues cost $31.95. To register, people can visit www.mops.org and type in code "KSIZ." For more information, people can contact Julie Foster at 618-304-4092.

Divorce Care sessions are being held at 6:30 p.m. each Monday at the Gibson City Bible Church, 309 N. Illinois 47, Gibson City. Divorce Care is a weekly seminar and support group that will help people heal from the hurt of a divorce or separation. Participants learn practical information and gain hope for the future. For more information, contact 217-784-5702 or visit www.gibsoncitybible.org.

The Fisher Book Exchange will be open from 3 to 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 3, and 3 to 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 17, at the intersection of Third and Sangamon streets in downtown Fisher. A large variety of hard-cover  books are available and suitable for gift giving. The choice in soft cover is extensive, with subjects to cover many interests. There are also children’s books, coffee table books, as well as many puzzles to choose from. Sales help to support the book exchange.

Fisher Odd Fellows Lodge No. 704 meets at 7:30 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of each month at the Odd Fellow Hall, located at the corner of Sangamon and Third streets in downtown Fisher. Oddfellowship is a service organization dedicated to the betterment of mankind. Anyone interested in membership information may call 217-897-6544 or stop in at the Free Book Exchange, where pamphlets are available.

Celebrate Recovery sessions are being held at 6:15 p.m. on Thursdays at New Beginnings Christian Fellowship, 107 S. Sangamon Ave., Gibson City. Food and fellowship will be offered from 6:15 to 6:45 p.m., followed by worship from 6:45 to 7 p.m., a lesson from 7 to 7:30 p.m. and "open share" groups from 7:30 to 8 p.m. Childcare is available. For more information, call 217-784-8673.

Celebrate Recovery sessions are being held at 6 p.m. on Mondays at The Upper Room Bible Church, 455 W. Orleans St., Paxton. Food and fellowship will be offered from 6 to 6:30 p.m., followed by worship from 6:30 to 6:45 p.m., a lesson from 6:45 to 7:15 p.m. and "open share" groups from 7:15 to 7:45 p.m. Childcare is available. For more information, call 217-379-4189.

Yarns and Threads, a group of people who enjoy knitting, crocheting, quilting, embroidery and all other sewing crafts, is inviting members of the public to join the group for its meetings held every Tuesday from 6:30 to 8:15 p.m. at the Paxton Carnegie Library.

The Tri-County Players will present "The Little Town of Christmas" at the Market Street Theatre, 120 N. Market St., Paxton, at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29; 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30; 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1; 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7; 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9. Tickets cost $12. To make reservations, people can call the theater at 217-379-7028. Walk-ins are welcome. Directed by Tom Janowski, cast members of the play are: Tammy Belanger, Xander Fortenberry, Rob Goin, Greg Herriott, Pam Herriott, Tom Janowski, Sherry Janowski, Carla Latimer, Sherilyn McIntyre, Rylee Adkins, Siana Bouchard, Gareth Latimer, Iris Latimer, Natalie Manrriquez, Grace McCoy, Elizabeth Megson, Josephine Royer, Kylie Van Horn, Destiny Williams, Ally Wright, Liliana Manrriquez, Kaylee Van Horn, Kayana Van Horn, Abigail Worstell and Sophia Wortsell. The play’s plot: Everybody in the little town of Christmas is friendly and funny, including Skeezix and Sylvester, an elf comedy team that is short in stature and long in laughter; Dancer, the reindeer with a whacky sense of humor; Mrs. Claus, the real boss of the outfit; and a hilarious street-corner Santa, tested and almost bested by one tough little kid with a sticky sucker. Also included are old favorite stories such as "’Twas the Night Before Christmas" and "A Christmas Carol," updated and aimed right for the funny bone, of course. Throw in a wandering group of carolers who cough and sneeze on cue, three kids trying their best to be wise men in the Christmas play, and a riotous lecture on Christmas etiquette, and you’re in for an evening of holiday laughter and warmth.

Gibson Area Chamber of Commerce members are being invited to attend a celebration of the American enterprise system at 3 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30, at Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley High School. The celebration is being held by the school’s Future Business Leaders of America chapter to promote the American enterprise system and get students more familiar with area businesses.

Paxton’s annual holiday business open house runs from Friday, Nov. 30, through Monday, Dec. 3, at participating businesses in downtown Paxton. Bag-sale specials will be featured, and the necessary bags are still available at the participating businesses. On Sunday, Dec. 2, some stores will be open from noon to 4 p.m. and serving refreshments and having entertainment.

The Sibley Business & Historical Association will showcase the 2018 restoration project of the business area on Sciota Street with a "Night on the Town" event from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, at the Sullivant Township Hall. Merrybeth Carriage Farm, Champaign, will be present to offer free rides around town with a horse and carriage. "4 to Go," a women’s barbershop quartet, will provide musical entertainment in the businesses open for the event. Free hot cider, coffee or hot chocolate and cookies will be available to enjoy on the rides.  Many older pictures of the life in Sibley will be on display. This will be a great time to purchase ornaments sponsored by the Sibley Business & Historical Association from the past, including the 2018 Sibley Lake ornament for $5 each. Also available will be the "Sibley Farm Families Book" and the book on "More of the Story of Burr Oaks and Sibley" for $20 each. This is a free public event. For more information, people can contact Neva Rohrer at nevaroar@gmail.com or 217-745-2243.

Lunch with Santa, sponsored by Roberts Fire & Rescue, will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, at the Roberts Gym, 118 W. Weldon St., Roberts.

The Saybrook Willing Workers 4-H Club is hosting a Breakfast with Santa event from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, at the American Legion Hall in Saybrook. A light breakfast will be served. Kids can make crafts and see Santa. The Saybrook Willing Workers 4-H Club is also collecting supplies to make packages for those who are homeless in McLean County. Donations will be accepted at the Breakfast with Santa event. The club is collecting: 1-gallon Ziploc bags, small bottles of water, chapsticks, travel-size toothpastes/toothbrushes, pairs of socks, packs of gum, travel-size first-aid kits, travel-size lotions and granola bars/crackers/NutriGrain bars. Donations are being accepted until Dec. 31.

A free pickleball clinic, led by Tom Wait from the Bloomington-Normal Pickleball Association, will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, at the Arrowsmith Community Center, which will be offering pickleball court reservations this winter.

The American Lutheran Church, located at 905 E. First St. in Gibson City, will be holding its annual Cookie Walk from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, Dec. 1, in the church’s parish hall. Decorated cookies will be sold for $6 per dozen. Undecorated cookies will be sold for $5 per dozen. For more information, people can call 217-784-4841.

The second annual Jinglebell Junction will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, at Wesbein United Methodist Church, 113 N. Main St., Saybrook. "This is a special shopping experience for children who wish to purchase inexpensive gifts for their families and friends," a news release said. "There will be a bake sale and craft items available for the adults who wish to shop, also. There will be a free lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. consisting of a barbecue sandwich, chips, cookie and a drink. Meals will last until the food is gone. Santa will be present to hand out treats to the children. If you want pictures taken with Santa, bring your own camera and we will be glad to take it for you."

A pizza party for local firefighters, police officers and Emergency Management Agency volunteers will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 4, as a "thank you" from PRIDE in Paxton’s Christmas Parade Committee.

PRIDE in Paxton will sponsor a cookie bake-off competition on Tuesday, Dec. 4, at the Paxton firehouse located at 310 N. Market St. Members of the local fire department, police department and Emergency Management Agency will judge the cookies entered into the contest. Contestants are asked to bring two dozen homemade cookies in disposable containers to the firehouse by 6:30 p.m. Dec. 4. Those who cannot bring their cookies to the firehouse at that time are asked to contact Teri or Dawn at 217-379-9241 to make other arrangements.

The Purdue University Extension and University of Illinois Extension are collaborating to offer their annual Bi-State Crop Management Conference on Tuesday, Dec. 4, at The Beef House Restaurant, 16501 Indiana State Road 63, Covington, Ind. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. (EST), and the presenters will begin at 9 a.m. (EST). Topics of this year’s conference will include: "Field Crop Disease," "Managing Soybeans: Yields to Sulfur," "CSI: Chemical Scene Investigation" and "U.S. Crop Update: Impacts of Ag Tariffs into 2019." The conference will include a break midway to enjoy a Beef House buffet lunch and will conclude at 2 p.m. The cost for the program is $20, which includes lunch, payable at the door or in advance online. Education credits for Indiana private applicators, certified crop advisors and Indiana commercial applicators have been applied for and will be available for an additional $10 Pre-registration is required by Nov. 27 by calling 217-333-7672 or visiting go.illinois.edu/BiState.

An American Red Cross blood drive will be held from 1 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5, at the American Legion post at 124 S. Second St. in Cissna Park.

Children and parents can shop for holiday gifts from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at the Central Illinois Connection Center, 404 E. Locust St., Chatsworth. Reservations are not required, and donations of any size will go toward Central Illinois Connection youth programs. 

The Arrowsmith American Legion post is hosting a fried chicken, walleye and catfish fillet supper from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7. The meal is all-you-can-eat when dining in. Carryout orders are also available but are not all-you-can-eat. Children  under age 10 eat for free when dining in with a parent.

An American Red Cross blood drive will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, at Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School.

A retirement open house will be held from 3 to 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, at the Hoopeston Public Library, 110 N. Fourth St., to honor Carol Arnold for her 47-year career as the library’s children’s librarian.

Santa’s Elf Patrol will stop by a number of area towns on Friday, Dec. 7; Saturday, Dec. 8, and Sunday, Dec. 9. During each stop, children will get to meet with Santa Claus, and each child will receive a bag of goodies. Santa’s Elf Patrol will visit Onarga from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7. On Saturday, Dec. 8, Santa and his elves will then visit Gibson City from 8 to 10:30 a.m., Melvin from noon to 1:30 p.m., Roberts from 1:45 to 3 p.m., Thawville from 3:30 to 5 p.m. and Gilman from 6 to 8 p.m. Stops on Sunday, Dec. 9, are in Danforth (10:30 a.m. to noon), Ashkum (1 to 2:30 p.m.) and Clifton (3:30 to 5:30 p.m.). "Each town will have a venue where Santa will visit and will be easily found by just showing up," a news release said. "Santa has a new set of wheels decorated with lights to music, and (he) will be led into town by a firetruck convoy."

A benefit/open house for Ken Hanford, who is battling cancer, is scheduled for noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at the Onarga Christian Church, 721 W. Seminary Ave., Onarga. Soup will be served for a free-will offering, and raffles will be held with the proceeds used to help cover Hanford’s medical costs at the Mayo Clinic.

The Paxton Park District’s annual Breakfast with Santa event is scheduled for 8 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at the Civic Center, 601 S. Fall St., Paxton. Santa will be on site, and a free breakfast will be served by park district officials.

The Saybrook American Legion Post No. 427 is serving catfish, chicken or all-you-can-eat walleye from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, at the Saybrook American Legion Hall. The meal includes a choice of one of the three meats plus sides of baked beans, baked potato and coleslaw. Dine-in and carryout orders are available.

Santa Claus will be meeting with children from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, and again from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22, at the Santa Hut next to Majestic Park in downtown Paxton.

The Saybrook American Legion Auxiliary is holding its annual Cookie Walk at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, at the Saybrook American Legion Hall.  The group is also accepting monetary donations for fruit for the Danville VA hospital. Money from the cookie walk helps support Illini Girls State, scholarships and programs of the American Legion.