December 12, 2002 | By: Aimee D. Heald

Years ago, Greenbo Lake State Resort Park in Greenup County shut down in the winter months. Knowing there had to be a way to keep the park open and entice winter tourism, local Cooperative Extension Homemakers put their heads together and devised a plan.

In the mid 1980s, Greenup county Extension Homemakers offered to decorate the Greenbo lodge for Christmas in an effort to boost numbers of visitors. The park welcomed the idea and has never been closed for the season since.

"The 15 Extension Homemaker clubs in Greenup County have been working since January to get handmade ornaments, ribbons and various tree trimmings ready for this occasion," said Rita Spence, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension agent for family and consumer sciences in Greenup County. "The park furnishes trees and lights and then we transform this place into a winter wonderland."

The Homemaker's clubs each are assigned a tree in the lodge. There's also a very large main tree close to the fireplace that is decorated with ornaments from all the clubs. They must stay within a theme and decorate that tree with homemade ornaments. This year the theme was Homespun Holiday. Homespun is a description for the type of material and look the ornaments will have. Spence said it includes a lot of plaid patterns in not-so-bright colors.

The decorations are not limited to only trees, Homemakers also decorate the mantle, make gingerbread houses and hang garland, bows and lights on the outside of the lodge.

Special for this year was a life size angel with wings outlined in white twinkle lights.

By the time the 2002 holiday season is over, Homemakers will know the theme for next year's event. That way they can start making their crafts for the next year as soon as January. For some Homemakers it really is Christmas all year.

"We'll know when this is over what next year's theme will be," said Helen Stevenson, an Extension Homemaker from South Shore, Ky. and former chairman of the decorating committee. "We didn't use to know the theme until September and then we really had to rush. It makes it better when you have a lot of time because you don't want to get too busy right before the holidays or you'll get burned out for your own Christmas, and we want to avoid that. "

Greenbo Lake State Resort Park Superintendent Cary Lyle is new on the job, but he already appreciates the efforts of Extension and the Homemakers.

"Other state parks are very envious of us because we've got the Homemakers doing all this for us," he said. "It brings in a lot of business from around the community and even from outside Kentucky. People like to have their parties here because of the beautiful surroundings. It's really boosted business here."

Spence said the Homemakers plan an open house the first weekend of December to showcase crafts, music and festive food. They also hand out about 1,000 recipe booklets so guests of the open house can try the food items at home.

Once the holidays are over and the New Year has arrived, homemakers return to the park to take all the decorations down, but the work is not over then.

"In the past people have purchased all the decorations from a tree after the season is over," Spence said. "Some of the decorations are sold at craft fairs and bazaars throughout the year. We also try to be involved in one event every month at the park whether it's our quilt show, a creative arts fair or railroad days."

Spence went on to say the projects are very good for the Park, but they've also been a good way for Homemakers to share their ideas and expertise and come together for fellowship and cooperation.

"This really brings our groups together," said Claudine Williamson, Extension Homemaker from Greenup, Ky. and current chair of the decorating committee. "We've never run out of ideas in more than 16 years of the event."

Williamson announced the theme for next year is "Christmas through the eyes of a child."



Rita Spence  606-473-9881