Annual Amherst Decorating Contest Spreads Christmas Cheer

Amherst, VA - Decorating for the holidays can get a little competitive, but what if your entire town was actually scored by a panel of judges?

That happens every year in Amherst, and all of it kicks off from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday night.

A group of women from The Village Garden Club will go to every single home and business in the town limits and grade them based on six different categories: Traditional, most festive, most original, outdoor tree, doorway and yard.

They've been hosting the Christmas Decorating Contest in Amherst for the last 10 years, but this year is a little bit different.

Take a drive past three homes on North Main Street, and it looks like a snow globe of Christmas cheer shattered wide open.

It's something the Campbell family really needed this year.

"She just got diagnosed with breast cancer so we're dealing with that. So, we just wanted to make this Christmas the best one," Ashley Campbell said, standing next to her mom.

The contest almost didn't happen because one of the judges, Joyce Dixon, died suddenly of breast cancer in November. The Village Garden Club didn't know if it could carry on without her.

"We definitely miss her. It's kind of like a little light went out, you know?" said Becky Greco, who's helping to organize this year's event.

But when hard times hit, even a little distraction can bring a lot of hope. Ashley Campbell finally convinced her mom to do colored Christmas lights.

"After 21 years!" she said, laughing.

So the competition will go on and the Campbell's will continue to spread holiday cheer to North Main Street.

"I think it adds fun to life, it makes things different for a little while and people enjoy seeing them," Greco said of seeing all the decorations.

There's no award for first place, but during the week of Christmas you'll get your name or business's name posted in the local paper.