Photo: Festival of Trees organizers, Bob and Jan Boynton, and Lions Club President Greg Orzech decked out in holiday attire at last week’s Festival of Trees.     Photo by Michael Turner

The 16th annual Festival of Trees took place last Friday night at the Grand Park Community Rec Center in Fraser. A holiday favorite, hundreds of visitors strolled the aisles to see the uniquely decorated trees and wreaths, assorted baked goods and pay a visit to Santa and Mrs. Claus. 

A team of over 50 volunteers help make the Festival of Trees happen each year. Fraser River Valley Lions’ volunteers handle all the planning, coordination, baking and serving and they also  deliver the trees and wreaths to winning bidders. 

This year, 33 Grand County nonprofits participated in the 16th annual Festival of Trees. 24 trees, 8 wreaths +1 set of items auctioned by the Grand County Jewish Community. The trees raised $13,425 ($559 avg) and wreaths raised $1,050 ($131 avg). 37 pies, cakes and candies were also auctioned off, raising $1,570 to help offset Lions’ costs for the Festival. Festival organizer, Lion Bob Boynton reports, “This year a record amount of money was earned for the nonprofits—$17,539!”

Boynton said, “The Lions Club hopes that the Festival allows the participating nonprofit organizations serving our valley to tell their story, gain more volunteers and donors for their organization and earn some money to support their good work.”  

Meara McQuain and her daughter, Mesa stand in front of the HTA tree decorated with historical handmade ornaments created by her Mom over the summer.

The event is much more than a showing of Christmas Trees. As you look at the trees and wreaths on display, you can see that a lot of love goes into every one of them. 

Headwaters Trails Alliance (HTA) Executive Director Meara McQuain said, “Everyone looks forward to this event. It’s the start of the holiday season.” McQuain’s Mom, Linda, a retired science teacher who lives in Kansas City, worked throughout the summer creating over 100 one-of-a-kind decorations for this year’s HTA tree. Linda researched Grand County’s history for inspiration. Each of the ornaments were carefully crafted to reflect a piece of our local history and included a brief description on each piece. She used red and black ‘buffalo plaid’ fabric to tie the theme together, bringing it to life. 

At this year’s Festival of Trees, every tree and wreath told a story. Colorado Headwaters Land Trust’s chose ‘A river runs through it’. Grand Huts turned their tree into a whimsical gnome. Eagle’s Nest Wilderness Ranch highlighted a western theme, complete with a miniature western saddle, cowboys and cowgirls. 

Lion Kirk Klancke said, “We want to help our community stay connected, strong and healthy.” Klancke is president of the Colorado Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited and a leader in the work to restore the Fraser River to a sustainable healthy waterway in our community.

After the Festival of Trees ends, it’s time for the trees to be delivered. Bob Blanding, of Mountain Movers, donates his truck and time and Lion Mac Valan is in charge of delivery. Bob Boynton said, “The trees were all delivered on Saturday, December 7. They left the Rec Center about 8:30 am and finished around 3 pm.” Now, it’s time to start planning the 17th annual event.

Boynton said, “The Fraser River Valley Lions Club has three other main ways that we give back to our community each year.”

  1. Our annual grant program for local non-profit organizations and schools awarded $70,000 this year to 30 organizations. 
  2. Lions Club International has established vision assistance as a key objective in its work worldwide and our local Club spends about $10,000 each year to defray the cost of eye exams, glasses and other special vision needs for children and adults in the Fraser Valley.   Mountain Family Center and school nurses identify those in need of help and Winter Park Optical provides their services at a discounted rate which stretches our Lions dollars. 
  3. The Fraser Valley Lions Club provides college scholarships to Middle Park High School and West Grand High School seniors.  Our scholarship program began 34 years ago. In the current school year, we will award $25,000 in scholarships to 11 seniors.  

Snacks, Hot Dogs, Wine and Schlitz Beer are part of the annual event put on by the Lions Club.

“We’re especially excited about a new scholarship program started this year to support early childhood education in Grand County. We will award two $7,100 scholarships to those working or wanting to work in early childhood education in our valley. These monies will defray tuition costs as well as provide a retention bonus for educators who stay and work in Grand County,” said Boynton. The program was designed in conjunction with Grand Beginnings who will help administer the new program.

The Fraser River Valley Lions Club meets the first and third Thursday of each month at 7:30 am at Carver’s in Winter Park. To learn more, visit