’Tis the season for holiday-themed runs, and the Galveston County Fair and Rodeo is hosting a trio of them on Dec. 3. The runs are part of WinterFest, a celebration that takes over the fairgrounds on Friday and Saturday.

The Jingle Bell 5K Fun Run kicks off Saturday’s activities with an 8 a.m. start. The 5K course runs through Jack Brooks Park, beginning and ending near the fairgrounds.

Once the 5K runners and walkers head out, the first of two one-mile Hot Cocoa Runs gets underway at 8:15 a.m.

“It’s open to runners and walkers of all ages,” fair coordinator Melondy Bender said. “Everyone runs about half a mile, then on the way back they get a cup and start putting together their hot cocoa.”

At the first pickup point, runners and walkers pick up a cup, then proceed to the next station, where they add a packet of cocoa mix. One more station adds the marshmallows, and after that it’s a dash to the giant candy cane finish line, where there’s hot water ready for making cocoa.

The Hot Cocoa Run is offered twice, at 8:15 a.m. and again at 9:15 a.m.

“Last year, there were people who wanted to do both the 5K and the Hot Cocoa Run, so we added a second time for them,” Bender said. “The second running is an option for anyone who registers for the Hot Cocoa Run, whether due to participation in the 5K or just a preference to sleep in and run later.”

WinterFest begins 5 p.m. today when an indoor craft market opens, with a tree lighting ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Saturday which features a full day of activities, including a pet parade, pie baking contest, mutton busting for ages 3 to 7 and “reindeer games” for kids.

Registration for the Jingle Bell 5K and the Hot Cocoa Run is available at galvestoncountyfair.com/winterfest or on-site beginning at 7 a.m. 5K registration is $20, and the Hot Cocoa Run is $10 for those 13 and younger and for participants 60 and over, and $15 for ages 14-59.

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