The Platte Valley Community Center was again transformed into a Forest with the annual Festival of Trees sponsored by the Saratoga/Platte Valley Chamber of Commerce and Hometown Hero Sponsors, Blackhawk Gallery and Albany County Chiropractic. Stopping by to view the creations on Thursday and Friday during regular business hours and enjoy hot cider and cookies has become a Christmas tradition for local residents in itself, according to Chamber Director Stacy Crimmins.
The entries not only provide inspiration for the viewer’s own decorating and gift giving, but present an overview of the products of businesses and local Valley citizens. Visitors also had an opportunity to vote for their favorite tree or other entry.
The Sixth Grade Class entry, “Trigger Happy Tree” won the People’s Choice award of a Chamber gift certificate to be used at any Chamber member business. The students not only participated in a bus trip up to the nearby mountains to cut their tree, but also made the ornaments decorating the tree, plus an added bonus of some baked items. In their eager quest for a tree, the class members ended up with four trees so donated the extra trees to families who might not otherwise be able to afford a tree.
The Festival culminated in a Gala and Auction, complete with a hearty selection of hors d’oeuveres plus cash bar, on Friday night, November 30th, at the Community Center. The Auction resulted in proceeds of $8,785.
Proceeds benefit Saratoga and Encampment High School organizations, as well as the Chamber. One of the school groups chosen this year is the Saratoga High School’s Close Up Chapter group which raises money for students to experience national politics firsthand with a trip to Washington D.C.
The entry bringing in the highest bid, was “Shooting for a Great Christmas,” a beautiful Gun Cabinet donated by Tina and Gary Francis, and built by Gary Francis out of beetle kill trees. Hack’s Tackle’s “Casting Merry Wishes Your Way,” featuring a fly rod, reel, 60 yards of 20 pound backing, fly line, and an assortment of different flies brought in the second highest bid.
The third highest bid was for “The 12 Wines of Christmas,” donated by Bella’s Bistro, featuring a tree decorated with wine cork angels and including 12 bottles of wine. The many other entries included wreaths, Christmas centerpieces, gift baskets ranging from food and drink treats to home décor items, a 19-piece colorful holiday dish set, and an end table with elk design engraving that was designed and created by the Saratoga High School Technology Class.
The festive week continued on Saturday, December 1, with the annual Chamber-sponsored Christmas Parade which was highlighted by the appearance of Santa and Mrs. Claus. After the parade, Santa and Mrs. Claus retreated to their home-away-from home in the Community Center where children could visit them personally, while the Valley Service Organization (VSO) served free chili, hot cocoa and cookies for everyone at Winter Wonderland.
The creativity of our Saratoga/Platte Valley citizens in planning and creating their entries for the annual Festival of Trees is always inspiring and a good start for getting into the Christmas spirit.
Van and I would like to share pictures of some of the festive holiday ideas from the Festival as a holiday greeting to the Fence Post readers. May you all have a Blessed Christmas and Happy New Year 2013. ❖