Woman standing in front of decorated Christmas trees.
A woman checks out some of the trees at the Conifer chamber’s Festival of Trees on Nov. 17. Attendees vote for their favorite trees that have been decorated by businesses, some with the help of sponsors. Credit: Deb Hurley Brobst

The annual Festival of Trees transformed The Barn at Evergreen Memorial Park into a winter wonderland scene.

There was something for everyone at this year’s event Nov. 17-18, which was back after a three-year hiatus because of the pandemic. Attendees checked out expertly decorated trees, wreaths and centerpieces, participated in a silent auction and kids activities, visited with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and more. The event culminated in an evening gala.

The Conifer Area Chamber of Commerce sponsors the Festival of Trees, and this year proceeds from the silent auction went to the Conifer Area Council. Shirley Johnson, president of the Conifer Area Council, and Katie Rothman set up the items in anticipation of bidders. 

Rothman was happy the silent auction items had something for all ages, and Johnson said the silent auction’s proceeds would allow the Conifer Area Council to do even more good for the community.

Kristin Judy, the Conifer chamber board president, said she wasn’t sure exactly when the Festival of Trees started, but it began as a wine-tasting event and morphed into the Festival of Trees.

Hours before the public would fill the barn, Santa’s elves aka volunteers were hard at work decorating the live Christmas trees sponsored by area businesses, decorating the barn, setting up tables and making sure everything was perfect. Holiday music filled the air as they worked.

Kelli Callison decorated The Venue Theatre’s tree, which was sponsored by Jessica Gentry Real Estate, in reds and golds, which are The Venue’s signature colors. Callison said she loved decorating her own home for Christmas, picking a different theme with different colors this year. 

When she heard the Festival of Trees was back this year, she volunteered to help.

Josie Adele, a local designer, volunteered to decorate the Blue Spruce Chocolates tree, calling it “A Piece for Peace” and using some of the chocolatier’s chocolate bars plus ornaments with words of peace in different languages.

Adele said she volunteered to design the Blue Spruce Chocolates tree, saying she loved the shop in Kittredge. She highlighted six countries at war and six countries that are the most peaceful, adding, “I want to spread peace to countries that need it.”

Beth Schneider, the Conifer chamber’s executive director, said a lot of amazing volunteers make the festival happen each year, and the festival puts attendees into the holiday spirit. 

“People like the magic of this event — the lights, the trees,” Schneider said. “It’s a beautiful way to kick off the holiday season.”

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