The Festival of Trees is a Grand County Holiday Tradition hosted by the Fraser Valley Lions Club. The event is a Grand County Non Profit Charitable event. This year marks its 14th season and is free and open to the public.
This year’s Festival will feature 24 Trees, 7 wreaths, and Hanukkah items decorated by 32 non-profit organizations. The Lions Club furnishes the “bare” trees in stands and the wreaths to the non-profits, sets up, staffs and cleans up after the event, and delivers all the trees to the high bidder on Saturday morning after the Festival. Lions Club volunteers also provide food and beverages free of charge to guests and ensures that Santa and Mrs. Claus will be in jovial attendance. More than 40 volunteers come together for this event.
The event has grown from a small idea to a fabulous event that takes place at the Grand Park Community Rec Center. Jill Childress, event founder said, “I joke about driving across the Fraser flats trying to come up with a new idea and there it was.” 2004 was a year where donations were down and Jill thought a holiday event would be a good way for area non-profits to step up and tell people about themselves and their organizations.
“Our first venue was in the space currently occupied by Be Fashion Boutique and Grapes and Grains in Cooper Creek Square.” Small but cozy, the event showcased 8 trees. Jill added, “We had our first dessert auction that night, as well.” Gary Defrange, former CEO for Winter Park Resort purchased the highest priced tree that year which was the “Mardi Gras” tree decorated by the Middle Park High School After Prom group. “I believe it sold for around $600.” The trees were then delivered to the purchasers in a “horse trailer”. Yes, fully decorated trees were delivered. The delivery of the trees has evolved. “Now our friends at Mountain Movers, help us to get them moved.” The Club has moved trees as far out as Kremmling, though that can be a bit tough in a snow storm.
- Jan and Bob Boynton are the event co-chair team and have been steering the growth for seven years ago, Bob said “The Fraser Valley Lions Club has 3 objectives for the Festival.”
1. Provide a fundraising opportunity for local non-profits.
- Provide a free, family-oriented holiday party for everyone in our valley.
3. Provide a venue where local non-profits can present themselves to the Grand County community, tell their story and garner increased support in the form of volunteers and donations.
The event has grown each year and last year set the bar with a new record for attendance and donations. Boynton said, “ We had 819 vistitors in attendance last year and we raised $11,790 from trees, wreaths and Hanukkah items and we paid out $14,335.“ The extra dollars came from Favorite tree tickets, donations, and prize money.
“Santa arrives at 5:30 and he’s usually there until about 6:30 or 7,” according to Boynton. “The children can get their pictures with him. A bunch of local restaurants donated desserts for an auction. We also have donated appetizers and finger foods. This year we even have a hot dog stand for the kids.”
The event takes place today, Friday December 1st, from 4pm -8pm at the Grand Park Community Rec Center. The event has always been free to the public. Jill Childress added, “It provides a great venue for the community to come together, enjoy the holiday season and support the organizations that provide so much to all of us.”