‘Tis the season of trees

By: 
JENNY GESSAMAN
Reporter

This antler wreath by Karen Miller was auctioned at the 2015 Festival of Trees, and is a great example of the handcrafted skill the goes into the event.

Photo by Doreen Heintz

The start of December is the start of Christmas festivities for many, and the Festival of Trees for Lewistown. Abby Franks, director of the Boys and Girls Club of Lewistown, tries to look past the hustle, bustle and bright lights to see the seasonal spirit of the events.

She pointed to the Festival’s kickoff, Nite with the Clauses.

“It brings us back to the roots of why we do the Festival of Trees,” she said.

The evening invites families to visit the forest of decorated trees and auction items, a scene completed with the Clauses themselves. A Central Montana Jaycees sponsorship keeps the night free, but Franks does ask each child for an entry fee.

“We ask that all the kids bring a teddy bear,” she said. “That’s their admission.”

Franks explained each toy serves to decorate a special teddy bear tree, which is then auctioned off at the Festival. The buyers often bring the generosity full circle, donating the toys to an orphanage or children’s organization.

In addition to the displays, Franks and the Boys and Girls Club will set up cookies, beverages and a station for making bookmarks to send to veterans. Families can also pay a small fee to take photos with the Claus couple.

“It’s a great chance for kids to come see Santa and Mrs. Claus, and for families to see the silent auction items and trees,” Franks said.

Kris Kringle and the Mrs. have to return home Friday night, but people can still get in the spirit Saturday with a stroll through the forest. Franks counted 33 entries, and said their diversity makes just looking at them fun.

“It’s a combination of a lot of different people’s creativity in what they have,” she said.

This year, Franks even has one entry created from a repurposed grain bin. What people give can include more than materials, though. Many decorate entries with their skills, and Franks often finds handcrafted items gracing the Christmas branches.

She thinks the live-auction trees will have some creative competition this year, though.

“We have a lot of silent auction items that would be live-auction worthy,” she said. “I think we’re going to have an awesome silent auction this year.”

Franks has seen a number of handcrafted items donated, from outdoor furniture sets to jewelry. Proceeds from both auctions support Boys and Girls Club of Lewistown, and Franks is always amazed by the amount of time community members donate to the fundraiser.

In return, Franks wants to make sure the Festival of Trees can kick off everyone’s holidays. In addition to the free Nite with the Clauses and Festival preview, people don’t even have to bid to help out the Boys and Girls club.

“You can bring a roll of duct tape,” she said.

For the Greater Montana Land Company Duct Tape Challenge, people can donate a roll of decorative duct tape. Franks said it even serves as an entry raffle: People can write their names and phone numbers inside, and five $100 winners will be chosen from the final tape pile.


Tape, trees and clauses
All events are at the Fergus County Fairgrounds’ Trade Center. For more information, contact the Boys and Girls Club of Lewistown at 535-2257

Friday, Dec. 1
• 6-8 p.m.: Nite with the Clauses (silent auction opens, Great Montana Land Company Duct Tape Challenge starts)

Saturday, Dec. 2
• 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Free Festival of Trees preview (Suggested donation of decorative duct tape)
• 5 p.m.: Festival of Trees (silent and live auctions, raffles)

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