Community service groups are joining forces with the City of Salem and Dent County this year to promote a series of events known as Salem’s Old-Fashioned Cowboy Country Christmas.

Cowboy Country Christmas is sponsored by Dent County, the City of Salem, the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce, KMW Ministries and the Salem Alliance for Historical Preservation. Events include the annual Christmas parade.

“It’s an attempt to promote all the major Christmas events in the community under one banner with a marketing campaign that kind of covers all of it,” said economic development director Sally Burbridge. “Each event will probably do some of its own marketing, but this is a way to push on a larger scale what’s going on in town.”

She added, “The idea is to list all the things going on so folks can have one place to go to see what’s happening.”

Plans call for print newspaper ads, radio ads, television ads and social media, including some paid posts in hopes of drawing more people downtown to patronize businesses.

Cowboy Country Christmas kicked off Sunday when registration began for the lighting contest. Businesses can register until Dec. 19 and must be ready for judging the morning of Dec. 20. Winners will be announced at 7:30 p.m. that evening. For more information, visit the Salem Historic Alliance website at www.preservesalem.org.

• The Cowboy Christmas Parade starts at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7 in downtown Salem. The parade route is the same as last year, from the corner of South Grand Avenue and Franklin Street to the Dent County courthouse.

Line up begins at 5 p.m. Santa will be on the fire engine at the end of the parade. For more information call the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce office at 729-6900.

• Country Christmas comes to Old City Hall Auditorium 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14. Conway Twitty, Johnny Cash, Reba McIntyre and Elvis tribute artists will all perform in one venue and help raise funds for the Salem Civic Theater. KMW Ministries is providing the entertainment lineup. For tickets, call (806) 598-2310.

• An Old Fashioned Downtown Christmas is planned from 6 p.m.-9 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 20 at the Dent County courthouse. Everyone is invited downtown for a night of Christmas spirit hosted by the Salem Alliance for Historic Preservation, including hot cocoa, cookies and caroling.

• The final Cowboy Christmas event is the Sock Hop at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21 at the Old City Hall, sponsored by KMW Ministries.

Chamber director Tabatha Utley said the Chamber’s focus is the parade.

“We are helping them with the advertising and promoting but the parade is really our biggest function,” she said. “At the beginning of the year we picked the parade theme, and when we started looking at all the activities downtown, we wanted to tie it all together. That way when people are looking at it, they’ll know the whole community is involved in this.”

The greater level of community involvement also generates more awareness, she said.

“It pulls a lot more interest when we have a lot of people involved and a lot of activities going on,” she said. “And with all the advertising going on at one location, you see at a glance that Salem has a lot of things going on.”

Parade entries are still coming in. There’s always a last-minute rush.

“We expect to have 45 or 50 entries before it’s all said and done,” Utley said. “We’ve had a lot of people call, and they’re very excited about the Cowboy Christmas theme. It can go a lot of different ways and people are really getting creative on what they want to do as far as their floats in the parade.”

Expect plenty of horses and possibly even a special cow leading one of the floats.

“Some of the ideas of how people plan to decorate their float or plan to dress up to be part of the theme have been really interesting,” she said.

Burbridge said the idea is also to get more businesses to participate in the festivities.

“One of the things that’s being promoted is the lighting contest,” she said. “So, we’re hoping we can get businesses involved to light up, decorate the community. That will also bring families out driving to look at the lights.

“We had a great run with all the scarecrows in October, and we’re hoping can get similar participation in lighting up and being involved in the events going on.”