The 72 entries are an increase from the 20 trees entered in the first Festival of Trees eight years ago, according to Harris Arts Center Director, Toni Molleson, who was involved with the festival since its inception, initially as a volunteer.
“We are so grateful to the generous businesses and individuals who donate entries to make this special fundraiser possible. Each year people’s creativity amazes us – there’s always something new and visitors love coming to see the trees and choosing a handmade gift from the artists’ market,” said Director, Toni Molleson.
Decorated and themed trees, wreathes and centerpieces run the gamut from traditional to whimsical. A jaunty elf who sits beside a topsy-turvy, candy cane filled cornucopia beacons children on the Gordon County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau’s tree, a Platinum Sponsor. Other elves frolic among twig mushrooms on the Country Friends’ entry and are awaiting Santa’s arrival on the Calhoun Watch and Fine Jewelry tree.
EVCO Plastic’s entry, “Starry, Starry Night,” features a family of hoot owls in a tree nestled in a real birch log base. Gordon County Master Gardeners showcase birds and their nests, while Jeanne Walraven’s woodland tree is filled with creatures of the forest.Caroline Hasty’s love of horses is featured in “My Barn, My Rules.” Boys of ages may be interested in the John Deere tree by designer Elsa Patton.
Sharkey’s “Here Comes Santa JAWS” features a shark wearing a Santa hat amidst fellow sea creatures. Little girls will respond to “Tinkerbell Wings and Princess Dreams” designed by Barbara Madison Salon.
A favorite among viewers has been a tree designed by Rene Keese made from lamp shades, ribbon and a vintage floor lamp. Another favorite is “Santa Pants”, a wreath donated by Starr Mathews and designed by Linda Sainato. Stage 4 Design’s unique vision uses reclaimed wood from the old Teague’s store and found objects to craft their tree.
Pets are the stars of two entries. Friends of the Gordon County Animal Shelter made their ornaments with photographs of pets which were adopted by loving families and donated a certificate for a free adoption or spay or neuter. Debra Owens sponsored a tree with hand painted portraits of dogs, titled “All I Want for Christmas Is a Family”, complete with custom dog house base.
New for 2012 is the “Stuff a Stocking” category. Donna’s Hallmark, Merle Norman Cosmetics, Chick-Fil-A, Bridge’s Discount Home Store and Karen Capehart all donated stockings brimming with gift certificates and other popular stocking stuffers.
Also, Sharion’s Silk Flower Outlet donated a custom mantle arrangement in tones of green and gold, entitled, “Santa’s Forest,” that one lucky recipient will win on December 9 for only a $2 raffle ticket. All other entries will be included in the silent auction to raise money to support the Harris Arts Center’s general operating expenses, according to Molleson.
The Festival of Trees is the Harris Arts Center’s largest fundraiser of the year, and has so far seen a good turnout, although the silent auction is still going on. Pieces up for auction are created by people of all ages, and are different year to year.
Many businesses donated money to have a piece created, or designed and crafted ones themselves.
“I wish we could thank every entry by name. I hope everyone will visit before Festival of Trees is gone for another year – it’s an important fundraiser for us and we appreciate all our supporters,” concluded Molleson.
Admission to Festival of Trees and Mistletoe Market is free. Harris Arts Center hours: Monday – 9 am to 6 pm, Tuesday through Thursday – 9 am to 4 pm, Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Open Saturday and Sunday, December 8 and 9 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Festival of Trees closes at 5 p.m. on December 9.