Springfield's SantaCon returns, grows for 2023 event

Springfield’s SantaCon is back this December, celebrating its fifth anniversary by adding even more holiday fun to the mix.

“We like to say SantaCon is about bringing friends and strangers together to celebrate the nostalgia and fellowship of the holiday season,” say Greg Rogers, an agent with Springfield’s Link-Hellmuth Insurance, who organizes the annual event with his wife, Kathryn.

From 3 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, Mother Stewart’s Brewing Company will be filled with guests dressed in their best holiday styles – think Santas, elves, ugly Christmas sweaters, and even an occasional leg lamp and Cousin Eddie thrown in. Attendees will be able to enjoy getting into the holiday spirit while supporting United Way of Clark, Champaign & Madison Counties.

Live music kicks off at 3 p.m. with a performance from Arlo Larson, which has become a tradition for the event. Additional performers include The Dawson Trio, After the Rain, and Jah Soul, with DJ Chill also onsite throughout the event.

This year also brings the addition of the Fireside Stage – utilizing the outdoor space at Mother Stewart’s to expand the footprint with the firepits rolling and a large heated tent. Springfield USA will be set up doing a live broadcast all afternoon and evening, and two live music sets will be performed on the outdoor stage.

“We want there to be a multi-level vibe with the spaces outside and inside,” Rogers says. “It can get very busy inside, so this will be a fun space to get outside and get some fresh air while still enjoying the event.”

The hot bar, featuring specialty hot cocktails and Christmas themed cocoa, will also be outside this year. Signature hot bar drinks will include hot spiced cider, Irish coffee, peppermint hot chocolate, and German gluhwein – a hot mulled wine.

Returning to the event will be limited edition 2023 SantaCon T-shirts for sale, a spin the wheel game, and a costume contest, in which participants compete for the most donations to rocket them to a first place win. There will also be a silent auction with prizes Rogers say are “exclusive to this event.”

“In addition to raising awareness of the United Way, all the funds from the T-shirt sales, the spinning wheel, the costume contest and the silent auction all go direction toward the United Way,” Rogers says, adding that it’s wonderful to be able to have a fun-filled event that is also able to life up a local organization that does so much good for the community.

A mix of food trucks will be at Mother Stewart’s for the event, and the brewery will be releasing a variety of brand new beers during SantaCon.

In another partnership, Tomfoolery Outdoors will kick off a Santa-themed bike ride at Mother Stewart’s the same day. The ride will “hit spots throughout Downtown Springfield” before wrapping up back at the brewery and SantaCon, Rogers says.

The Rogers first brought SantaCon to Springfield after going to a a larger-scale SantaCon event in New York City.

With the support of many generous sponsorships to keep it running annually, Springfield’s SantaCon has become a holiday tradition that both sponsors and patrons look forward to each year, Roges says.

“It’s all super humbling,” he says. “My wife and I are super proud and honored by it all. We’re about to raise awareness of United Way and raise money for a local organization.

“It’s been awesome to partner with Mother’s and have such a great venue Downtown and to have it grow and grow every year. This event is one we’re very proud of and care a lot about.”
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Read more articles by Natalie Driscoll.