MCHENRY — The exhibit hall at the Garrett County fairgrounds will be transformed into a winter wonderland this weekend for the fifth annual Festival of Trees.
This transformation will include activities for all ages and an opportunity to support the important work of the Dove Center. The Dove Center was founded more than 20 years ago and offers assistance and safe haven for victims of domestic and sexual abuse.
“The Festival of Trees has become the signature fundraiser for the Dove Center and it is critical to the ongoing support we offer,” said Sherry Bradshaw, event co-chair and Dove Center board member.
The Dove Center, of Garrett County, serves more than 525 victims of domestic abuse each year. This care and support requires considerable funding and volunteers. Realizing the importance of offering these individuals a temporary safe haven and the effort needed to persevere, organizers have created a holiday event that celebrates the season with emphasis on the joy of safe families.
The Festival of Trees was created five years ago under the guidance of Pam Trickett. Area businesses, organizations and residents were invited to decorate Christmas trees, wreaths, centerpieces and gingerbread houses that were auctioned at the conclusion of the event. Since that first year, the event has evolved so much so that it is now held at the fairgrounds to accommodate more displays, activities and the hundreds of people who attend the two-day event on Friday and Saturday.
“Domestic abuse continues to be a serious problem for women and children and men in Garrett County. The Festival of Trees makes it possible for Garrett County to offer the support and services needed to help those families on the path to happiness and safety,” Bradshaw said.
Event co-chair Judy Finkel said the Festival of Trees will include decorated trees, wreaths and centerpieces created by area businesses and organizations as well as children’s activities, craft vendors and local entertainment.
“The children’s activities will include Frosty’s Funland, Santa’s Bakery, with cookie decorating and the Elfenheim Mall, a place where children can buy gifts for their families for just one dollar,” Finkel said.
Breakfast with Santa will be offered both days and will include a full pancake breakfast, a gift and a photo with Santa in his sleigh. Reservations are not required but appreciated.
Silent auctions each day will feature donated items and one-of-a-kind pieces from area artists and vendors, including Lou DiCarlo, Lynn Atkins and Gary Yoder. The donated trees and displays will be offered during the live auction Saturday evening, the grand finale of the festival. An area business will offer free delivery of the decorated trees in the local area.
While this is a fun and festive event, volunteers never lose sight of their mission — supporting the good work of the Dove Center and its staff in their quest to help area families.
“We have such wonderful support from the community, from businesses, organizations and arists and from the people that come to the Festival of Trees. The community’s support is so important for us to be able to continue our work at the Dove Center,” Finkel said. “The Festival of Trees is something the whole family can enjoy together and represents our wish for every family to be happy and healthy.”
“Attending this event allows you to enjoy beautiful trees, lights and displays while raising funds to ensure the invaluable services of the Dove Center can continue,” Bradshaw said.
For more information on the Festival of Trees, visit www. fotgc.com. For more information on the services offered by the Dove Center, visit www. gcdovecenter.org.
Contact Angie Brant at abrant@ times-news.com.