Festival of Trees continues growth in Lawrence County
SOUTH POINT, Ohio — The annual Festival of Trees took root in Lawrence County on Friday and Saturday, featuring a record number of local vendors and a dozen decorated Christmas trees for people to bid on.
The Greater Lawrence County Area Chamber of Commerce celebrated its largest Festival of Trees and Christmas Market since it began four years ago, held at the chamber offices on Collins Street.
To prepare for the event, chamber members gave bare Christmas trees to local sponsors who then decorated the trees with ornaments and other trimmings. The trees were then sold during an auction Saturday night, with all proceeds going toward local business development and a scholarship fund for county high school students. The response to the weekend event was so great that the chamber had to set up another tent for vendors and barely fit the number of trees ready for auction.
“One of our main purposes in having this the week before Thanksgiving is so people can get into the Christmas spirit,” said Shirley Dyer, chamber president. “It’s never too early.”
Several trees lit up the chamber’s offices, where they were on display, including one decorated by St. Mary’s Medical Center that looked like a winter forest with sprayed-on snow and white animals peeking out.
A tree decorated by WesBanco in Ironton was made golden with large bulbs and ribbons wrapped around the branches. Another tree by the Proctorville Animal Clinic was decorated with silver ornaments reminiscent of a metal barn roof, complete with milk pails and an old farm truck.
Dyer said it’s up to the vendors to decorate the trees how they want, with proceeds from the auction going toward helping the community.
This year, the chamber opened tree decorating to art classes in area high schools. The Tri-State STEM+M Early College High School and Chesapeake High School both submitted trees with art-themed ornaments.
“They were offered to decorate a tree, and their business classes or art departments could sell them and they got to keep half the proceeds,” she said.
Dyer said getting the trees to the winning bidders is an art in itself. All trees are shrink-wrapped and hand-delivered to the winning bidders.
“We will then take the shrink-wrapping off, fluff the tree and put it back to its original look,” she said. “Then they have a tree completely ready for Christmas.”
More than 30 vendors participated in the Christmas Market, offering artisan jewelry, craft decorations and tasty treats.
Martha Watson-Kessinger, of Barboursville, was selling crocheted Christmas ornaments and doilies. Her pieces use old-style patterns to dress up mundane items around the house, such as mason jars. The trend was created during the Great Depression to easily and inexpensively decorate people’s homes, she said.
“The thread makes finer and more delicate pieces,” she said. “I try to use vintage patterns.”
The South Point roundabout project, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year, caused somewhat of a headache for traffic to the event Friday night and Saturday, Dyer said. However, she said the turnout was a success and would continue next year.
For a photo gallery of this event, go to www.herald-dispatch.com.