Rifle’s Hometown Holiday kicks off this weekend

Santa Claus waves to the crowd as he gets a lift from Colorado River Fire Rescue during the annual Parade of Lights in 2019.
File / Kyle Mills

A major festival is coming back to Rifle and bringing the holiday spirit with it.

Rifle’s Hometown Holiday, an annual event typically offering visits with Santa Claus, a tree-lighting ceremony, parade of lights and more holiday-related festivities, kicked off this week. It’s the first in-person Hometown Holiday since 2019, after 2020’s festival was placed on hold due to COVID-19.

Though Santa Claus can be quite evasive this time of year, he will appear in Rifle today and Saturday, Western Garfield County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director JulieAnn Van Hoek said.

“Santa will be on Second Street at Santa’s Workshop,” she said. “He will be delivering kids’ letters to the North Pole.”

Santa’s Workshop on Second Street in downtown Rifle, which resembles a small fairy tale village, is a first for Hometown Holiday, Van Hoek said. In previous years the Ute Theater on Fourth Street would host Santa’s special accommodations.

Attendees are welcome to visit Santa’s workshop from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday.

For those who can’t wait, Santa will make himself available during Friday’s craft fair. He will join 35 participating vendors from 4-8 p.m. at the Garfield County Fairgrounds and Events Center, 1001 Railroad Ave.

“Santa will be there Friday night with his sleigh,” Van Hoek said. “And don’t be surprised when his elves show up to help him out.”

Friday will end with a performance by the Rifle High School Jazz Band from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the fairgrounds.

All kinds of fun-filled events are scheduled throughout the entire day Saturday.

The craft fair picks up where it left off, running from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday will also offer a wreath-making session from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Bookcliff Art Center, 955 County Road 293.

Fancy a holiday movie? A free showing of “The Polar Express” starts at 11 a.m. at the Brenden Rifle 7 Theaters, 250 W. Second St.

For any adventurers out there, the Greater Rifle Improvement Team is slated to host an architectural scavenger hunt from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Called Treasures of the Frontier Scavenger Hunt, folks are invited to Cafe Kape on West Third Street. There, they will be given playing cards that ask them to check off landmarks and city features. When they return, a wheel will be spun for prizes, which include free movie tickets, gift certificates and more.

Hayrides will be offered throughout the afternoon.

Finally, a tree lighting ceremony, bonfire, fireworks and the famous parade of lights are all scheduled to close out Saturday evening. The tree lighting ceremony begins at 5 p.m. at Centennial Park, located at 300 W. Fifth St.

According to the Rifle Main Street Manager Kim Burner, the city’s newly elected council members should make an appearance.

“The Holiday Tree Lighting ceremony, at Centennial Park, will include an introduction of Rifle City Council members, with remarks, followed by the lighting of the tree and music (unfortunately not live this year),” she said in an email. “This will conclude just in time to head up to Railroad Avenue for fireworks followed immediately by the Parade of Lights.”

A fireworks display, set off from nearby Rifle Middle School, will boom in the sky between 5:15-5:30 p.m.

The day’s grand finale, however, will be graced by the parade of lights hosted by the Western Garfield County Chamber of Commerce. The parade, which will include Santa, members of the Colorado River Fire Rescue District and several floats, will start at the fairgrounds and make its way south on Railroad Avenue toward downtown. Afterward, the Rifle Heritage Center at 337 East Ave. will offer free hot chocolate to all parade attendees.

Symphony in the Valley will also be performing Saturday and Sunday at the Ute Theater, 132 E. Fourth St.


Craft fair, 4-8 p.m. at fairgrounds (Santa’s there)

Rifle High School Jazz Band performance, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at fairgrounds


• Craft fair, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at fairgrounds

• Wreath making, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Bookcliff Art Center

• Polar Express movie/canned food drive, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Brenden Theater

• Treasures of the Frontier Scavenger Hunt, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Cafe Kape

• Craft giveaway, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Rifle Library, located at 207 East Ave.

• Santa’s Village, noon to 4 p.m. at Second Street

• Hayrides, 2-5 p.m. at the library, Brenden Theater and Santa’s Village

• Tree lighting, 5 p.m. at Centennial Park

• Bonfire, 5-8 p.m. at Brenden Rifle 7 Theaters lot

• Fireworks, 5:15-5:30 p.m.

• Parade of Lights, 5:30-6 p.m. starting at the fairgrounds

• Symphony in the Valley, 8 p.m., Ute Theater


• Symphony in the Valley, 2 p.m., Ute Theater

A communitywide home-decorating contest is now underway. Hosted by the Western Garfield County Chamber of Commerce, residents from Parachute to Silt can submit a photo of their decorated house and their address to from Dec. 2-10. Photos will be posted on the chamber’s Facebook page for voting.

Grand prize is $750, runner up $250.

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.