A holiday tradition that has spanned more than 15 years in Fayetteville is going dark this year.
According to multiple reports, the family behind the Stewart Family Christmas light display on Wyman Road in Fayetteville has decided not to put up their display in 2019.
A combination of factors may have led to the decision. Personal issues with the family, increased expenses associated with the display, along with new regulations that could be required of the owners by Washington County leadership, were listed among the reasons reported that the display won’t happen this year.
“It’s disheartening,” display curator Carlin Stewart told KNWA over the weekend. “I see so many kids that come up and so many families that go and get so much enjoyment out of it and I’m really sad about it.”
The display had been running every holiday season since 2003, but the Stewart’s decided to open their property up to the public in 2013.
It started with just a few strings of lights and a few inflatables, but had grown to include more than 500 inflatables, and 1.5 million lights in recent years. There was also a train, a snow machine, a hot chocolate stand, and even old Santa himself would make regular appearances as part of the display.
It was attended by thousands of residents from NWA and the surrounding region each year.
Two years ago, the display was featured on the ABC television series “The Great Christmas Light Fight.”
Concerns over traffic and safety, and complaints from the neighbors led county planners to notify the Stewarts that the display would require approval of a conditional use permit moving forward.
According to the report, the extra work, and uncertainty around the process led to Stewart’s decision to cancel this year’s display.
“I just don’t understand as to why I would have to jump through all these hoops other than the Washington County Planning Commission saying that I have to,” he told KNWA.
“Thank you Northwest Arkansas for all your support and I hate that it has to come to an end but maybe we can start it again if it’s not here maybe it’ll be somewhere else,” he said.