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Collingwood Christmas Day Feast is back to dish out cheer

The Christmas Day feast is set for 200 people at Bear Estate, everyone is welcome from newcomers to long-time residents
Over the years, the feast has evolved and grown, bringing together people from various walks of life on Christmas Day.

After a three-year hiatus, Collingwood's beloved Christmas Day Feast is back, and it's set to be a heartwarming celebration of community spirit like never before.

“The energy in the room, the smiles and the joy. It really is something special,” said Marg Scheben-Edey, one of the organizers of the event. “I can’t tell you how excited we are.”

The feast, which began in 2014, has become a cherished tradition for the community. Not only does it provide a free, delicious meal to those in need on Christmas Day but also a sense of belonging and togetherness. 

“I can’t even express in words how it feels for us,” said Scheben-Edey. “It makes our Christmas.”

Now in its seventh year after a three-year hiatus during the pandemic, the feast has become a labour of love for the dedicated committee of volunteers — known as elves — who have been a part of it since its inception. Their commitment to creating a warm and welcoming environment for the community is evident in the meticulous planning that begins as early as February.

“We’re excited to be back but in some ways it feels like the beginning,” she said. “Like we’re starting all over. Fortunately, we essentially have the same team of volunteers so everyone knows what they are doing.” 

From planning to execution, the event is entirely community-driven, relying on the elves, along with almost 100 additional volunteers and donations from generous individuals and local organizations. It might take a Christmas miracle, but they anticipate feeding over 200 people on Christmas Day.

This year, in response to the growing demand, the feast will be held at the Bear Estate, a donation from Living Water Resorts.

Chef Simon Bailey will prepare a buffet-style meal, including ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, vegetables, and rolls. Additionally, Georgian Life will set up a photo booth, and Santa Claus will make an appearance with gifts for children in attendance.

Other sponsors include The Rotary Club of South Georgian Bay, Collingwood and District Kinsmen Club, McDonald's, COBS Bread Bakery Collingwood, Happenings Party Rentals, Peasmarsh Farm Catering, the Print Shop, Community Connection, and so many others who have provided financial support and resources to make the annual event possible.

“It really is a community-driven event. From the food, money and donations, to the facility, the volunteers and the guests, every aspect is truly rooted in our community,” said Scheben-Edey.

Scheben-Edey and her husband, John, created the Christmas Day Feast somewhat by chance. Several years ago, the couple was looking to volunteer their time over the holidays and realized there were no community events in Collingwood on Christmas Day.

Thinking it just wasn’t right, they called up 10 of their friends and asked if they wanted to help cook Christmas dinner next year.

“Every one of them said yes. That was how it started,” she said. 

The first year ended up being a massive success. The crew was so overwhelmed with how much joy they were able to bring to the community, they had to make it an annual affair. The event has evolved over the years but the core of its mission remains unchanged — to provide a sense of community and a free, joyful meal to anyone who feels their Christmas Day would be better because of it.

“My husband and I think of it as our family Christmas dinner with a whole bunch of people around the table,” Scheben-Edey said. “That was the original vision we had. There is a really strong feeling of family and community.”

During the pandemic, the feast, like many other community events, faced unprecedented challenges. The committee knew they couldn't hold their usual gathering but supported the church in their takeaway meal efforts on Christmas Day instead. 

Needless to say, it wasn’t the same, and Scheben-Edey is eager to hold the event in person once again. 

“You miss the gathering, that sense of community that happens when you’re all together in one room on Christmas Day,” she said. “To see it all come to life is incredible.”

The feast will take place on Monday, December 25 and is free to attend. If you’re new to town, far from family, or have financial or emotional barriers that make hosting a Christmas dinner difficult, or if you simply want to enjoy the holiday cheer with others in the community, the Christmas Day Feast might be the perfect place for you.

Doors will open at 12:30 pm on Christmas Day, with the meal served at 1:00 pm. Registration for the event is handled through 211 to ensure that there is enough seating and food for everyone.

More information can be found at

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Maddie Johnson

About the Author: Maddie Johnson

Maddie Johnson is an early career journalist working in financial, small business, adventure and lifestyle reporting. She studied Journalism at the University of King's College, and worked in Halifax, Malta and Costa Rica before settling in Collingwood
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