BANGOR — For more than a decade, the birth of Christ has been depicted in hundreds of ways in a display that has become an area holiday favorite.
The 11th annual Greater Bangor Area Creche Exhibit returns this weekend at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the corner of Grandview Avenue and Essex Street. Times are:

-Noon-8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3.
-9 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4.
-Noon-8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5.
-Noon-8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 6.

This exhibit is not Grandma’s tchotchkes lined up atop her piano.
It’s practically an annual museum created with 500-600 creches, largely donated by 100-150 community members, that come from around the world, with very little duplication.

“It’s interesting to see the different cultural interpretations of what a creche is,” said Hazen Martin, co-chairman of the exhibit with his wife, Anganette, and Albert and Heidi Dow. “There’s also the materials they’re made of, ranging from stovepipes to corn husks to cow entrails.”

Preparation for the free event begins the day after Thanksgiving. Two truckloads of supplies are hauled in from storage in Machias. Then volunteers work in shifts, 12 hours a day for a week, to ready the exhibit for its openings.

Returning this year “by popular demand” is a life-size Nativity built by the Martins.

“We had it for several years, then took it out last year, figuring people would be tired of it, Martin said. “But a lot of people were upset it was gone, so it will be back this year.”

Other Nativities are so small they can hang on a tree.
This year’s theme is “The Light of Christ,” comparing the light of Christ to a lighthouse, explained Martin, who has been involved with the exhibit since its second year.

Although many of the elements are the same year to year, it’s still important to switch things up, Martin said.

“We have many of the same people coming back year after year,” he said. “So we try to change the theme and the core of the exhibit every year.”
Performance schedule

(All performances are held in the chapel, unless otherwise noted.)

Friday, Dec. 3:
2-3 p.m., harpist Phoebe Durand.
4-4:30 p.m., vocalist Shane Reitze.
5-6 p.m., pianist Dan Barrett.
6-7 p.m., pianist Jacob Stinson.

Saturday, Dec. 4:
11 a.m.-noon, live Nativity.
Noon-12:30 p.m., vocalist Julie DeGrasse.
12:30-1:30 p.m., flutists Ariel and Brittyn Dauk.
2-2:30 p.m., Newport’s Men’s Choir.
2:30-3 p.m., instrumentalists Gary and Melinda Bosk.
3-4 p.m., clarinetist Jodi Offret and pianist Judy Reitze.
4-5 p.m., live Nativity.
6-6:30 p.m., instrumentalists Gary and Melinda Bosk.
7-7:30 p.m., vocalist Melissa Hurley.

Sunday, Dec. 5:
Noon-12:30 p.m., vocalist Brad Rand.
12:30-1 p.m., Pushaw Ward Choir.
1-1:30 p.m., vocalist Noel Topping.
1:30-2 p.m., Sweet Adelines.
2-3 p.m., live Nativity.
3-4 p.m., Stake Primary Choir.
4-5 p.m., live Nativity.

Monday, Dec. 6:
Noon-12:30, vocalist Marylee and pianist Wilford Kimball.
1-1:30 p.m., vocalist Marylee and pianist Wilford Kimball.
1:30-2, vocalist Marta Sisco.
2:30-3 p.m., vocalist Marta Sisco.
6:30-7 p.m., organist Clayton Rogers.