Metro-East News

Five Things To Do This Weekend: Santa Claus may be a Mason

Any week now, this column is going to go to the dogs. No time like the present, eh?

The Edwardsville Kennel Club has a dog show starting at 8 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday at the Belle-Clair Fairgrounds in Belleville. The club is out to “protect and advance the interests of all breeds of pure-bred dogs” through dog shows and obedience trials. While they love dogs, only competing animals are welcome at the show. Admission and parking are free.

For those with strictly two-legged interest:

Santa may be a Mason

The Freeburg Masons have a pretty simple mission this weekend: Make sure every kid gets a picture with Santa.

Eric Zimmerman, a fifth-generation mason of two years, says a group of the younger masons are trying to “take it to the next level” by contacting daycares, homeless shelters and women’s shelters.

“That way every little kid, whether you have money or don’t, can have a picture with Santa Claus. That’s our goal,” he said.

It might be a long line, so the masons have an all-free hot dogs or nachos, and every kid gets a grab bag with coloring books, crayons and some fast-food restaurant coupons.

Last year, Zimmerman said there were 378 kids at the event. This year, they’re prepared for more than 500.

It starts at 11:30 a.m. and officially runs until 2:30 p.m. at the Freeburg Masonic Lodge at 205 W. High St. in Freeburg. That said... “if we’re not done at 2:30, we’re not going to kick anybody out,” Zimmerman said. “Last year it went ’til almost 4.”

Eagle Eyes

Keep your eyes peeled Saturday morning at the Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge for the national symbol in flight. Visiting multiple areas known for eagles with a ranger — those helpful folks who can spot the birds at a distance — is from 9 to 10 a.m. Saturday in Brussels. It’s good for all ages. Call 618-883-2524 for more information.

Get your stripes

Get to walking through the woods to wherever the GPS and compass direct at an orienteering event at the Nature Institute in Godfrey. The Candy Cane Challenge takers should arrive at 9 a.m.; the cost is $5 per person and it’s open to individuals, partners or teams. Call 618-466-9930 for more information.

Craft time

▪  Winter Wonderland Vendor and Craft Fair benefits the Children’s Dyslexia Center of Southern Illinois (, includes photo ops with Elsa from Frozen, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Scottish Rite Building, 1549 Frank Scott Parkway West, Belleville.

▪  Immaculate Conception School Craft Fair has arts, crafts, cookies and candy sold. Breakfast and lunch as well. It’s from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Immaculate Conception School, 321 S. Metter, Columbia.

▪  The 22nd annual Weihnachtsfest starts at 10 a.m. Sunday at St. James Parish Center, 423 Madison St. in Millstadt. The festival, featuring a craft fair, jewelry and more is the primary fundraiser for the Youth Ambassador Exchange, says Charlene Faulbaum of the Millstadt Sister Cities organization. They’ll serve German food starting at 11:30 a.m. and Santa arrives by parade at noon. Admission is free.

Winter Market

Edwardsville kicks off its Winter Market with caroling, a holiday art contest, Santa’s house and a peek at the elves workshop on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. That market runs every Saturday through Dec. 23. It has arts, crafts, baked goodies — and free crafts for children, caroling and even Queen Elsa.