"Journey to Bethlehem"

Michael Beimford portrayed a shepherd in a past production of "Journey to Bethlehem." The Village Church is hosting the live Christmas event from Friday through Sunday. (Courtesy of Michael Fernandez / December 18, 2011)

Village Church in Burbank will host an event this weekend called "Journey to Bethlehem," a live Christmas event recreating first-century Bethlehem and featuring a marketplace with roughly a dozen vendors, 60 cast members and a collection of rescued animals.

"I want to show them what it was like in the first century back in Jerusalem, at the time Jesus was born," said Richard Zemaitis, a church member and set designer for the production.

Upon entering, visitors will receive a handful of tokens, which they can use to "purchase" items from the vendors.

Among them will be a woodworker, who will be selling wooden flowers, a produce vendor selling figs, and a baker offering honey-filled pitas, Zemaitis said. Other vendors will include a blacksmith, leather-worker, basket weaver and spice trader, he added.

A group of rescue animals, including bunnies, chickens, sheep and a donkey, will also appear in the production.

This marks the seventh year the church has presented "Journey to Bethlehem."

"Each year I try to clean it up and make it more historical," Zemaitis said, adding that he built a brand-new cave to show where he says Jesus was born, though it's commonly believed he was born in a manger.

The free event will be held in the Village Church Courtyard, located at 3216 W. Victory Blvd., on Friday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Saturday from 5 to 8:30 p.m., and Sunday from 4 to 7:30 p.m.

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Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.

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