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Searcy Holiday of Lights & Chocolate Gravy Cookoff


Long known for the Christmas lights on the historic White County Courthouse that anchors downtown, Searcy Holiday of Lights is turning up the amp on its display this year.

Festivities officially kick off Tuesday, with lights appearing at sundown all over the city. The Lighting Ceremony will return to Berryhill Park at 6 p.m. that evening, with Tom Brannon from THV11 lighting the new White County Courthouse replica.

Highlighting the full slate of events this season is Searcy’s Jolly Jubilee in Downtown Searcy on Saturday, Dec. 3, and Berry Merry Christmas at Berryhill Park on Saturday, Dec. 10.

Although the Searcy Holiday of Lights celebration re-started in 2015, this year, the tradition has greatly expanded offerings due to funds granted by the Searcy Advertising and Promotions Commission. The commission awarded $126,000 for the proposal submitted by Searcy Parks and Recreation and the Holiday of Lights committee.

Lighted Arch at Yancey Park in Searcy Holiday of Lights

Photo courtesy of Amber Walker.

“I remember Searcy Holiday of Lights when I was a teenager,” said Kristi Thurmon, chair of the Holiday of Lights committee and publisher of OnlyInArk.com. “The lights at the parks were magical and really brought the community together. I’m so proud to continue that tradition by serving on the committee since 2015 and leading it since 2021. This year is bigger and better than ever with over 100 events throughout the holiday season.”

The bulk of the Searcy A&P funds will pay for lighting, but the money also allows for new events. More lights illuminate Spring and Berryhill Parks, and Yancey Park is included for the first time. The painted tree forest in Berryhill Park expanded to include more than 80 trees by local artists. New events include free carriage rides in downtown Searcy, an Elf Movie Party at the historic Rialto Theater, a Christmas Trivia event and a Christmas music event at Smyrna Church, which is the oldest church building in Arkansas.

Chocolate Gravy Cookoff Searcy Holiday of Lights

World Championship Chocolate Gravy Cookoff

Presented by OnlyInArk.com and Searcy A&P, the 2nd annual World Championship Chocolate Gravy Cookoff will be held Saturday, Dec. 3, from 9-11 a.m. in Downtown Searcy. The event features two contestant categories: amateur and professional. Awards of trophies and cash prizes will be presented to best amateur ($500), best professional ($500) and people’s choice ($500).

“Since Adria English, an OnlyInArk.com blogger, shared her first experience with chocolate gravy and recipes several years ago, I have dreamed of this opportunity,” said Thurmon. “I am so excited that Searcy is hosting this one-of-a-kind, family-friendly event through Holiday of Lights for the second year. I believe it will draw people from all over the state.”

It’s also a great opportunity to meet your favorite food blogger, our own Kevin Shalin, as he is judging the cookoff for the second year.

Contestant entry forms are available here. Ticket holders will receive individual servings of biscuits and chocolate gravy during the event. Advance tickets are available for $5 here. Tickets will be $7 at the event.

Jolly Jubilee

Other events for Searcy’s Jolly Jubilee include:

  • Christmas Craft Fair
  • Polar Express Pajama Party at the Rialto
  • Santa’s Story Time: “T’was the Night Before Christmas”
  • Christmas Shopping Downtown
  • Christmas Music in Citizen Park
  • Games, Inflatables, Petting Zoo, Pony Rides
  • Food Trucks
  • Searcy Christmas Parade

“I am most excited about Jolly Jubilee December 3 in Downtown Searcy because there will be Santa, shopping, Christmas music, chocolate gravy and lots of activities for kids,” Thurmon said. “There’s really something for everyone, and I hope Searcy and the surrounding communities will come out and enjoy the holiday fun.”

More Holiday of Lights Events

The Berry Merry Christmas event Saturday, Dec. 10, is at Berryhill Park. Guests can meet Santa and their favorite princesses and heroes and enjoy free cookies and hot chocolate.

Christmas Lights will return to Harding University Monday, Nov. 28 with their lighting ceremony on the front lawn at 6 p.m.

Another fan favorite is the Living Nativity, a drive-thru event with over 300 actors and live animals at Searcy First Assembly of God.

And no Searcy Christmas would be complete without visiting Santa on the Square in Downtown Searcy and Skating in Spring Park.

The full schedule of events for Searcy Holiday of Lights with links to tickets and more details can be found at searcyholidayoflights.com.

Cover photo courtesy of Al Fowler.

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April Fatula is student publications adviser and instructor in Harding University's Department of Communication. She lives in Searcy with her husband and three children and dreams alternately of being a travel writer and drinking her coffee while it's still hot.

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6 responses to “Searcy Holiday of Lights & Chocolate Gravy Cookoff”

  1. […] paid a visit to Searcy over the holidays, mainly to help out with last year’s World Championship Chocolate Gravy Cookoff, but also to check out Wild Sweet’s new place, and, of course, partake in some of the baked […]

  2. […] from small surrounding communities to eat, shop and play. It’s known for the White County Fair, Holiday of Lights and Chocolate Gravy Cookoff, Get Down Downtown and various Beats & Eats events held throughout the year. The downtown area […]

  3. […] Searcy Holiday of Lights & Chocolate Gravy Cookoff […]

  4. […] Searcy Holiday of Lights & Chocolate Gravy Cookoff […]

  5. […] Peach Festival | Clarksville Crawfest | Arkadelphia Wilson Annual Bloody Mary Competition | Wilson World Championship Chocolate Gravy Cookoff | Searcy Berry Fest | Bentonville Purple Hull Pea Festival | Emerson Grill and Chill Festival | […]

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