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The Festival of Trees in Utah
The Festival of Trees
A wonderful Christmas event in Salt Lake City, Utah. Parts of this information in paraphrased from the official web site.
Every year, around the start of December, The South Town Expo Hall holds an event called The Festival of Trees. This event is a huge showcase for Christmas trees, wreaths, gingerbread houses, food, and toys. With all proceeds donated to the Primary Children’s Medical Center, this event is a great way to have fun at the holidays and give back to the community. All items are donated, and all workers volunteer their time.
“The Festival of Trees was inspired 37 years ago by a group of 15 women from along the Wasatch Front. These women were challenged by Lewis M. Jones, Chairman of the hospital's Men's Endowment Board, to identify a way to raise funds for the hospital.” When this event first started, there were sixty donated trees for sale; the event raised around forty-seven thousand dollars. Last year, the 2007 Festival of Trees displayed over eight hundred trees alone, raising $1,604,021.64 for the hospital. Many of the trees come from families that have lost a loved one, or had a loved one who was ill. These trees usually have a picture of the loved one beside it. The tree’s theme is often a favorite of the individual, whether a hobby or collection.
All of the money raised at Festival of Trees goes directly to paying for child medical care at Primary Children’s Hospital. Because one in nine children in need of medical care cannot afford the cost of a hospital stay, the festival was created to raise funds so that no child would ever be turned away because of inability to pay. As the festival donates money for care, so to do the doctors donate their time and expertise to the hospital. And as the festival is growing every year so too does the ability of the hospital to care for children
So what activities are available to the public at The Festival of Trees? Because of the enormity of the event there is enough to see, eat, and do for literally hours upon hours of fun. There are the trees, the biggest exhibit for the festival. Each tree has a theme, size and area it occupies. The large trees take up most of the space in the center and hold the most elaborate spot on the list of items to see, as well as the spot as the biggest price tag items. The medium size trees and small trees are a good way for people with a more modest budget to give.
This year, one of my favorite trees was a big tree. It was a wooden contraption in the shape of a tree, it would drop wooden balls down from the top of the tree, and they would go down an obstacle course that included a xylophone ramp and funnel. It was very ingenious and worth well over nine-hundred dollars. There were also trees with elaborate side gifts like Wii game consoles, TVs, and baby cradles.
Along with the trees there are musical performances going on all day at each end of the hall. These are usually given by local school groups and dance studios. They are fun to watch because of the variety of performances given, they vary from professional performers to first graders. A few years ago, I even saw an old man play a tune on a hand saw, a very strange yet intriguing sight. Along with music there is a kid’s play area. With the purchase of a ticket, a child can participate in face painting, decorating ornaments and other fun games, and even stand in a giant bubble. They can also decorate a teddy bear as a Christmas gift for a sick child at the hospital.
One of the last important things to do at the festival of trees is to eat. With a fudge bar, rows of candy, hot dogs, sodas, and famous scones and cinnamon rolls, there is a lot to eat. The fudge bar has at least ten different kinds of fudge. This year, I tried the candy cane flavored fudge. It was very tasty. The divinity is a big sell at the candy stands; however, they offer a wide variety of candy. This year they were making so much cotton candy that it literally filled the air. If you looked up, you could see sugar raining from the sky.
Despite all of the delicious food available, the biggest food attraction would be the scones. They are made fresh and some rolled in cinnamon sugar. If you eat them with honey butter you might think you died and went to heaven. The line for scones can loop around on itself forever but its well worth the wait.
I enjoy The Festival of Trees because I know my money will go to a good cause, every penny of it. I feel this event is a good way to connect to people in need and have fun as a family. Whatever your Christmas giving style is, be it volunteering, giving large amounts of money or even just the little you can, The Festival of Trees is the place to give. Because giving and having fun just go hand in hand.
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