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2023 Annual Festival of Lights Auto Tour illuminates Redman Creek West Recreation Area at Wappapello Lake

Posted on January 8, 2024

This festive competition and public event, held annually since 1992 features holiday displays sponsored by local businesses along with appearances by Mr. and Mrs. Claus where visitors get to drive through a festively decked out auto tour in the Redman Creek West Campground located in Wappapello, Missouri.

Supported by volunteers from the Wappapello Lake Area Association and River Radio, area businesses drape lights on campers, tractors, and trees and add in their favorite wooden cutouts and holiday mascots that all come together in hopes of winning this year’s contest and spreading Christmas cheer to all that come to visit. Categories included first, second, and third place of the best decorated campsites.

Volunteers from the Wappapello Lake Area Association worked Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights from November 24 through December 10 and then nightly until December 25 providing more than 1,100 hours of volunteer service equaling $35,000.00 to support this year’s event.

“All the participating businesses did a wonderful job decorating their sites and we are very proud of this event that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and our lake association has supported for 31 years,” said Alyssa Davis, Park Ranger. “Working in partnership with Wappapello Lake Area Association, local businesses, and River Radio makes this event happen each year.

Davis added that this is my third year overseeing the event and working with the Association. “This has been a lot of work on top of other duties, but the teamwork and collaboration are something to be proud of and I am excited to see who will win the contest this year, she said.”

Christmas music and holiday spirit filled the campground and brought over 30,000 visitors into the recreation area during the winter. The auto tour participants were able to cast their votes on the sites as they drove though and picked their favorite displays. Roughly 600,000 people have visited the Festival of Lights over the past 31 years.

The event sponsors provided the awards for this year’s winners: first place, Little Brushy Church received a monetary award and bragging rights, second place, Boys and Girls Club received a monetary award, and third place, Faith Baptist church received a monetary award.

“The lake association is very excited about hosting this year’s competition. A lot of work and creativity went into making this possible,” said Volunteer Mike Williamson. “This year, we changed locations and had to do extra work to accommodate everything, but the displays came together thanks to our awesome crew, and we really enjoyed seeing all the families and kids come through this year.”

Donations help fund future celebrations, according to members. Wappapello Lake Area Association also helps with several events at Wappapello Lake. To learn more, visit them at or


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