Festival of Trees a first in Gem County

The “We Honor Veterans” Tree ornaments had photo representations of 44 Gem County veterans, including this one of Charles Calloway Newhall, a civil war veteran.


The inaugural Emmett Festival of Trees Gala was held Saturday November 23 and gauging by the reception and the results of the event, Emmett has a new holiday event to place permanently on its pre-Thanksgiving calendar.

While called “A Charlie Brown Festival of Trees”, the creations of local artisans left Charlie Brown in the dust or at least his sparse pine needles. Thirteen trees were created for viewing and auction at the concluding dessert gala with all proceeds going to Operation Teen Elf, the Emmett Community Playhouse, the American Legion and VFW.

It was a patriotic “We Honor Veterans” tree that took home the top honors with the Judges Award. This tree honored 43 Gem County veterans in clear ornaments — veterans dating back to the civil war. This tree will be on display at the VFW Hall in Emmett throughout the holidays. The tree was donated by Heart ‘N Home Hospice.

Second place was awarded to “Duchess Jubilee of Marxley”, a tree shaped as a Victorian lady with all the appropriate attire. Created by Grateful Gardens Art Studio it is on display in the window at 117 Main St. through Christmas.

Third place brought an international flavor the event with “The Panchito” tree from LaCosta Restaurant. Topped with a sombrero the tree feature hand-made paper machete ornaments.

Trees were on display at the 4-H Building at the Gem County Fairgrounds, Nov. 21 — 23. Nursing homes and day care groups received special viewing opportunities during the week.

Along with the trees, thirteen wreathes were also decorated and donated to sell during a silent auction during the sold out semi-formal dessert event on Saturday evening.

Event spokesperson Denise Sorenson called the first-time event “beyond our expectations.”

Approximately $6,000 was raised for the local non-profits.

A small group of people worked the past year to get it organized according to Sorenson. “Thanks goes out to Mary Copley, Marta Henry, Tiffany Nebeker, Jen Frieboes, Lynn Maxwell, Gail Sackmaster, Ralph Forte and Donna Schmidt. Thanks also go out to Ida Church who inspired us with a dream of this event for several years and unfortunately passed away before she could see it happen.”

Tree donors and creators worked hard to make beautiful creations for viewing and bidding pleasure. Sorenson expressed thanks to Valor Health for two trees, Mary Copley and Amy Fisher, Grateful Gardens, Smart Start Academy, Gail Sackmaster, Heart n Home Hospice, Evans Realty, WildRoots, Stephanie Johnson, Gem Vet Clinic and The Hen House — Tamara Walker.

Wreath creators were Laurie Lindsay, Alyce Kelley — Emmett Library, Cindy Hochstetler, Jodi Brown, Lake Dance Steps, Tina Chapman-Herz, Country Kids Daycare, Ashlee Kharrl, Linda Ipaye, Karol Burlile, Wendy Gammel, Donna Schmidt, Tracy Howard and Alicia Rea.

Emmett High football coach Rich Hargitt served as master of ceremonies for the gala evening with Drew Deighton servings as the auctioneer. Dawn Juker and Servatune Entertainment provided the musical entertainment for the gala. Numerous local groups provided entertainment throughout the week and Santa made a brief appearance as well.

Sorenson is confident that the Emmett Festival of Trees will be back next year and “should only grow bigger and better.”

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