A forest of Christmas at Festival of Trees



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A forest of trees was set up on two levels of the Barn at the Waukewan Golf Course. Erin Plummer. (click for larger version)
December 09, 2009
MEREDITH — An indoor Christmas forest lit up for local visitors as Altrusa's 14th annual Festival of Trees brought out numerous decorated trees.

A wide array of decorated and lit Christmas trees were lined up on two levels inside the barn at Waukewan Golf Course. Altrusa member Annie Stanford said organizers wanted to make the trees look like a forest.

Trees were decorated by local businesses, organizations, and some private individuals and donated for viewing, auction, donation to needy families, or any combination.

The Festival of Trees began with the idea to provide Christmas trees for those who could not afford them. Gradually the idea came about to auction off some of the trees and eventually the Festival of Trees took shape.

The festival went underway on Thursday with an auction gala, auctioning off trees and big items. Other items and services were donated by local businesses. Stanford said a letter goes out to businesses every year asking for donations.

"Generosity is definitely abundant in a year that's been a down year," Stanford said.

Kevin's Café, Mames, Hart's Turkey Farm, and Canoe donated food for the auction.

The Festival of Trees officially kicked off on Friday and continued through Sunday. Friday night was Feast and Festival night where those in attendance got a coupon for buy one entree and get the second half price at Lago, Camp, Lakehouse Grille, and Mames.

Most of the trees were done by businesses and organizations. Several families and individual residents also decorated and entered trees for the festival. Those who contribute a tree can use any theme and have their tree in a wide range of sizes.

"Anyone's welcome to come in and bring a tree," Stanford said.

Trees ranged from more traditionally decorated with an assortment of ornaments and garland to decorated with hand-made items and some more whimsical.

Meredith Bay Personal Fitness had "A New You for the New Year" tree with ceramic ornaments decorated with various fitness themes. The Meredith Fire Department Auxiliary had "Snowman Holiday" with cottony snow around the branches and ornaments that included snow globes and plush snowmen.

Meredith Curves had a "Healthy Holidays" tree with ornaments of corn on the cob, apples, grapes, and fruit slices with garland of popcorn and berries. "Buon Natale" was the theme for the New Hampshire Lakes Region Italian Cultural Club, featuring fruit ornaments and small boxes of Italian cakes hanging from the tree with biscotti and other Italian treats underneath.

Goldenview Healthcare celebrated a "Pioneer Christmas" with shellacked orange slices and popcorn and berry garland. Winnie the Pooh and friends were featured prominently in the "Christmas in the 100 Acre Woods" tree by Baby Threads. The Common Man offered $180 worth of gift certificates on their tree.

Altrusa and their committees and related groups had their own trees. One of the most prominent of these was "Read Around the Tree," by the Altrusa Literacy Committee. The tree was located in the corner of the second level and had a wide array of books for children and young adults underneath it and on a table to the side. Children could sit at the table and the chairs around the corner and read. On Sunday, Jessie Wright from the Meredith Public Library read stories to children in attendance right by the Literacy Tree.

Trees can be donated for needy families at Christmas who do not have a tree, they can be put up for auction, or they can be just put up for display. Some of the trees on display had been auctioned off, and the winning bidder allowed them to stay as part of the display.

Proceeds from the sales and the auction go toward area food pantries and the Children's Christmas Fund.

The festival also includes the Noel Shoppe of various crafts and gifts made or donated by participants.

The Festival drew many people from all over the area to see the trees.

Michelle Cole of Alexandria came out with Jim Carleton and was showing 2-year-old Wyatt Carleton the trees.

"My boss told us about this," she said. "I think it's amazing, it's beautiful.

Kathleen Kammeraad of Gilford and Alice Rezucha of Gilmanton were also first time visitors, learning of the festival in a local publication. Both called the display "beautiful."

Stanford said festival organizers are especially grateful to the Hale family that owns Waukewan Golf Club and has let them use the barn for the display.

"They have been generous with their generous donation of the barn," Stanford said. "It definitely lends to the ambiance."

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