BUTLER, Ky. (FOX 56) — On the weekend before Christmas, the Kirsch family of Pendleton County gets together for devotions and prayer.
Then, they get all dressed up to share their faith in a bigger way. Brothers, sisters, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews get into stable condition in the basement of a farmhouse then go away to a manger in a back field.
Kenna Knight said 30 years ago, her parents, Ken and Bonnie Kirsch, were talking to the family about what they could do to make the holiday special.
“We decided the best way to bring the true meaning of Christmas into the season, and keep that in the forefront, was to start a live Nativity,” Knight said.
So, in 1995, the family added a live Nativity scene to their decorated yard, and everyone born into the family, or married into it, has been a part of it ever since.
Jordan Kirsch, 19, stood in the stable this year, wearing a royal-looking robe and holding a bag of “gold.”
“I’ve been an angel for a significant part of it and now I got promoted to being a wise lady,” said Jordan.
It’s truly a family affair. Those who don’t stand in the stable direct traffic or hand out homemade cookies and hot chocolate. Betty Bierman, 102, made most of the costumes 30 years ago and still stands ready to repair holes on a holy night.
“I don’t make anything now,” said Bierman. “I’ll sew if somebody needs a seam sewed up or things like that; patching, mostly. I keep my machine open.”
A lot of people decorate with Nativity scenes, maybe plastic figures or wooden cutouts, but this family believes a live scene is a better representation of the biblical stable. Their stable is a place full of visitors, noise, and joy.
“It’s the ability to communicate and share (that makes it better),” said Knight. “We get to tell our story and why we do it, and we get to hear their story as to why they come.”
“We now have (people) who came when they were kids bringing their kids, and they’ll tell you how it’s become a big part of their family tradition as well,” said Knight.
Bonnie Kirsch died in July 2022, so the family said there was a void in this year’s three-day event.
“She loved it so much,” said her son, Matthew Kirsch, who did a shift in the stable portraying Joseph. “She’s a big reason it has continued all these years. We’ll keep it going as long as we can.”
Ken Kirsch agrees.
“We have a pretty expanded family and it keeps expanding,” said Ken. “Everybody seems interested, so I think it will stay for a while.”
Eight-year-old Abby Insko has been coming to the live Nativity for as long as she’s been alive.
“I like it because whenever I was three I was holding baby Jesus,” said Abby. Her mother keeps a picture of that moment on her phone.
Braden Wolfe of nearby Falmouth has also been a frequent visitor over the years.
“It’s awesome,” Wolfe said. “A nice, small-town thing to do.”
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“I love it because I know we’re serving the Lord, and I know that we’re touching a lot of people, and it’s very important to me that that happens,” said Bierman
What started as a simple gift to the community has become a star attraction.
About 1,000 people visit the scene each year, which runs the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of the week before Christmas. Nativity weekend has never been canceled, no matter how bad the weather has been.
The farm also has a large light display, which can be viewed every night through New Year’s Eve. It’s located at 35 Jacobs Road in Butler.