LOVE'S PURE LIGHT
Liz Lemon Swindle will be coming as a live artist! Liz Lemon Swindle began her painting career in first grade. Her first exhibitions were on the refrigerator, encouraged by her father. In the early 1980s she tutored under renowned wildlife artist, Nancy Glazier. In 1992, Liz began painting a subject matter she had long desired to approach: her faith. Her paintings are now held in corporate and private collections around the world and have been published in countless magazines and books. Liz and her husband Jon have five children and thirteen grandchildren.
We are pleased to welcome back Diana Lage of Iowa and her stunning Fontanini Nativity set in the 5" size. In addition to last year’s 1500+ pieces, new this year, the collection will showcase Diana’s Life of Christ Collection featuring scenes, miracles, parables, and more from Christ’s life totaling nearly 3000 pieces arranged in a stunning walk-about exhibit. Diana has been collecting the Italian, hand-crafted pieces for over 30 years and owns one of the most complete 5" Fontanini sets in the world.
Returning this year will be Peoria’s own Rolan Johnson's Christmas card collection with the entire 22 corresponding nativity ornaments released by the Sisters of St. Francis of the Immaculate Conception of West Peoria. The Festival is the only public venue to view the collection in its entirety. Johnson’s commemorative Christmas cards were a labor of love and are deeply rooted in Peoria’s history. It is an honor to showcase his unique contribution at this year’s Festival of Nativities.
Johnson’s unique ornaments are based on the Christmas card designs of Peoria print shop owner Rolan Johnson. These distinctive cards were hand designed and created annually for more than 40 years through an arduous process then distributed complimentarily to his patrons and others throughout the world who requested them. Through his loving creations, Rolan shared the true meaning of Christmas with people around the world. The tradition of the Rolan Johnson cards came to an end with Rolan’s death on Sept 3, 2000, but his legacy lives on in the annual limited-edition Christmas ornaments crafted using images from his original works. For more information, visit
Nativity Collection of Monsignor William A. Watson, Retired Priest from the Catholic Diocese of Peoria. Monsignor Watson is pleased to display more than 60 nativities from his private collection. Several of his nativities were generous gifts received during his 53 years of dedicated ministry. Many pieces in his collection were acquired internationally.
Children and adults alike can enjoy staying busy looking for and appreciating the smallest of nativity details pointed out in the challenging Nativity Scavenger Hunt. Who can find them all? From a ladybug to a nativity carved from coal, this year's hunt will keep you and your littles looking with their eyes only and finding new treasures throughout the display. A picture bingo activity is available for younger audiences.