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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Live music will return to the Christmas Bureau for one day only

Alaine Qualls, a volunteer, plays some Christmas carols on her accordion and sings along at the 2016 Christmas Bureau at the Spokane Fair & Expo Center.  (Jesse Tinsley/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Alaine Qualls, a volunteer, plays some Christmas carols on her accordion and sings along at the 2016 Christmas Bureau at the Spokane Fair & Expo Center. (Jesse Tinsley/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

The live holiday music that used to fill the Christmas Bureau every year ended when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. This year, it’s coming back.

The bureau played recorded music at the Spokane County Fair & Expo Center last year in an effort to limit the number of people inside. There will be recorded music this year, too, with the exception of Saturday. That’s when participants will be treated to live music.

The bureau will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. that day. In the morning, the Pacific Island Association will have singers, ukulele players and hula dancers performing Pacific Island Christmas music. In the afternoon, Jimi Finn will be performing as a one-man band. Finn has played for the Ridler Piano Bar Dueling Pianos and has a band called Jimi Finn and the Naturals.

Music organizer Christi Folkins said she’s pleased that live music will again be a part of the Christmas Bureau, even if it’s still limited.

“Music creates such a universal language,” she said.

Folkins began volunteering with the Christmas Bureau 20 years ago, and there were requests from people who wanted to sing. Folkins said it made sense that she be the one to help organize it.

“It was a natural fit for me,” she said. “Music has always been a huge piece of our family’s life.”

The music program grew from a few occasional performances to a full schedule with several performers each day. There were singers, musicians, comedians, ventriloquists, choirs and dancers. The oldest performer was an 88-year-old tap dancer and the youngest was a 3-year-old fiddler.

Folkins said she always heard from the performers that they were touched by the experience, and that it helped put the true meaning of Christmas into perspective for them.

She said she hopes to build up the live musical performances so there will again be a full schedule of performers bringing Christmas cheer to those standing in line and picking out toys and books for their children.

“Christmas music is such an integral part of the holidays,” she said.


The $600,000 Christmas Bureau goal is inching closer, with new donations of $4,690 bringing the year-to-date total to $81,715.18.

Mary Paupst donated $1,000 via PayPal. Doug Dominey contributed $400 via PayPal.

Bryce and Cheryl Backus, of Spokane Valley, donated $300. Lynda Ensign, of Spokane, contributed $300. An anonymous Spokane donor gave $300. Mary Kay Eddy sent $300 via PayPal.

Tamara Dees sent $250 via PayPal.

The Krause family, of Spokane, sent $200. Marcia Dorwin donated $200 via PayPal, writing “Merry Christmas!” Margaret Yurik-Clemons gave $200 via PayPal, as did Elizabeth Pontarolo.

Diane Zemke contributed $150 via PayPal.

James Vroman, of Spokane, gave $100. Peggy Estey donated $100 via PayPal, as did Therese Hart, Sue Blankenship and Kelley Opperud.

Scott Engstrom donated $80 via PayPal.

Steve, Gail and Bea Quaid, of Colbert, donated $50. Mary Ellen Steen, of Liberty Lake, sent $50. Kara Moraski gave $50 via PayPal, as did Marcia Downing, Yanxin Liu and Nicholas Zollinger. Bridget Clark gave $5 via PayPal, as did Lillian Marshall.

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