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16th annual Festival of Trees begins

by Evan Matthews | reporter@fitzhugh.ca

With a light blanketing of snow, it is once again time for Jasper’s Festival of Trees.

Anna-Marie Couture, fundraising coordinator for Jasper Yellowhead Museum and festival organizer, says the festival will run from Nov. 23 – Dec. 16 in support of the museum.

“We buy the trees, and drop them off to people, who then decorate them,” says Couture.

“There is only two things we ask: One, that the tree has lights on it. Two, it has some kind of value to it, because that’s what people are bidding on,” she says.

The concept is as follows: People in the community decorate their own trees — choosing from 3.5, 4.5, 5, and 6 foot trees — while collecting donations also be associated with the tree. Each tree should also have a theme, Couture says.

With the last date of the festival and silent auction being Dec. 16 (at 3 p.m.), people can come in and bid on their favourite tree, or the tree with the best prizes.

When a person ultimately bids and wins, they get the tree top to bottom, according to Couture, including all the decorations, associated prizes, and the tree itself.

“People do whatever they want, so we’ve had some very, very unique trees,” says Couture.

“This year we have a set of old skis converted to a coat rack. It’s not a tree, but it looks like a tree! It counts!” She says.

Not everyone has the time to decorate, but it doesn’t mean they have to be excluded.

Couture says people have two options, decorate a tree and donate. Some of the businesses in town have been the best example of this, according to Couture, as owners don’t have a ton of free time, so their companies donate gift certificates to be associated with pre-decorated wreaths, which were created by organizers.

The Anglican Church of St. Mary and St. George started Jasper’s Festival of Trees in 2001, with the Jasper Yellowhead Museum taking over the operation in 2004. The festival started out with only 13 trees, according to Couture, but has been as high as 40 trees this year.

The museum is a non-profit organization and can never have enough funds raised, according to Couture.

“We’re always fundraising. We do hopscotch at the Sawridge, and the Canada Day beer garden and BBQ,” says Couture.

The Festival of Lights has free entry, but Jasperites should note the museum has switched to its winter hours: Thursday to Sunday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Festival organizers are also hosting a wine and cheese on Dec. 14 at 7 p.m.

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