Festival of Trees kicks off holiday season Dec. 1-2

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Check out dozens of beautifully-decorated trees at the Festival of Trees, held on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 1 and 2, at the Backwoods Bar and Grill and Event Center in McGregor. (NIT file photo)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

From dozens of beautifully-decorates trees to festive music and food, the sights and sounds of the holiday season will be on full display at the Festival of Trees.

Sponsored by Clan McGregor for Community Enrichment, the McGregor Historical Museum and the McGregor-Marquette Center for the Arts, the annual event will be held on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 1 and 2, at the Backwoods Bar and Grill and Event Center in McGregor.

“It will be good family fun,” enthused Anne Kruse, who helps organize the Festival of Trees along with many other community volunteers. “We try to engender a sense of community and fun that everyone can participate in. It’s a great kick-off to the holiday season.”

Festivities will get underway Friday, at noon, when attendees can begin viewing trees. Vendor booths will be set up offering crafts and other gifts, as well.

Forty-five trees will be on display throughout the weekend, all lovingly decorated by individuals, businesses and organizations from area communities.

Kruse said festival-goers can vote for their favorites in two different categories: homemade and store-bought. They can also make bids to take a tree home.

“We’re trying to do a better job of emphasizing the selling of the trees,” she said. “This year, the bid sheets will be next to the trees, to clarify which ones are for sale.”

Activities Friday evening will include several music performances and sing-a-longs, beginning at 6 p.m.

The “Spirits of Christmas” pub crawl will be held from 4 to 9 p.m. For this adult-only event, a small fee entitles participants to sample-size holiday drinks at six McGregor establishments.

This year, said Kruse, there’s an added twist.

“Participants will be asked to complete a challenge at each bar,” she explained. Examples include taking a selfie or finding something at the bar, like a scavenger hunt. Complete the challenge and you could win a prize.

On Saturday, the event center will open at 9 a.m., for tree viewing, vendor booths and a bake sale.

Children’s activities, including an opportunity to create a gingerbread house, will run from 2 to 4 p.m.

Santa and Mrs. Claus will be available for photos beginning at 2 p.m.

The day will also feature a variety of Christmas music and a luncheon by Backwoods Bar and Grill.

Saturday evening activities will commence at 5 p.m., with Santa’s Sweets and Savories contest. Attendees can sample bite-size sweet and savory treats, submitted by community members, then vote for their favorites. Sampling and voting will continue until 7 p.m.

If you’d like to submit a sweet or savory entry, contact Bonnie Pruett at (563) 873-1125 or bkp52157@alpinecom.net, by Thursday, Nov. 30.

Saturday will conclude with even more holiday musical performances, as well as the announcement of winning tree bids and the tree and food contest winners.

The proceeds from this year’s Festival of Trees will benefit three local causes, including the MFL MarMac Snack Pack Program, which gives “snack packs” of food to students in need over the weekends. Funds will also go to the Restore McGregor Tornado Fund and to Quilts of Valor volunteers, who honor area veterans with handmade quilts.

For more information about Festival of Trees, see the ad in this week’s paper or visit the “Festival of Trees—McGregor, Iowa” Facebook page.

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