At The Shepherd’s Staff’s 13th annual Carroll County Festival of Trees you can capture the magic of the holidays, compliments of many community hands. Rows and rows of donated trees will be set up at John Street Quarters in Westminster, from Nov. 29 through Dec. 1.
The Festival of Trees focuses on over 30 beautifully decorated trees offered up by silent auction. On Saturday, look for live music, baked goods for purchase and a children’s craft table. Attendees will also find a fun photo booth, cash and carry gift baskets, and an ugly sweater contest.
This year, The Shepherd’s Staff has partnered with Carroll County Arts Council’s Festival of Wreaths and Carroll County Human Service Programs’ Gingerbread Village Festival. Pick up a punch card for the Holiday Hopper tour at any of these events, then get your card punched at all three and the card will be good for a free coffee, hot chocolate or tea, and a free festive cookie at JeannieBird Baking Company, at 42 W. Main St. Afterward, drop the completed card off at the bakery for an opportunity to win one of three prizes.
“All three organizations have provided a prize for the drawing,” said Brenda Meadows, executive director of The Shepherd’s Staff.
Ann Bollinger, a supporter of The Shepherd’s Staff, said she’s attended the festival for many years.
“It is heartwarming, just walking in the door,” she said. “It overwhelms you because it is so beautiful. It feels like you’ve gone back in time. The trees are incredible.”
Bollinger said it’s a win/win if you’re moved to bid or make a purchase, because you are helping needy families in Carroll County, while having a phenomenal holiday experience.
“Last year, my daughter was up from Tampa [Florida] and had just enough time to walk through. Then I won her favorite, a Mexican fiesta tree! I have it here until I can drive it down to her,” Bollinger said.
Meadows spoke of the event with enthusiasm, including the new “Buy Now” option and the all-new ugly sweater contest.
“A few of our trees will have a ‘Buy Now’ option this year. If someone really loves the tree and wants to pay the ‘Buy Now’ price, the bid sheet will be removed, but the tree will stay on display until Monday.” Meadows said. “Our ugly sweater contest is very unique. We are asking folks to take selfies in their sweaters at our event and post them on The Shepherd’s Staff Facebook page. Voting will run from December 2 to 6 on Facebook. The winners will be announced on Monday December 9 with three prizes: for the Most Glitzy sweater, the Funniest and the Most Unique.”
In addition, a Virtual Tree will be displayed on The Shepherd’s Staff’s website and can be found on Facebook and Instagram from Wednesday, Nov. 27 through Jan. 15.
“You can go to the tree and sponsor a decoration,” Meadows said. “You click on an ornament, a light, a gift or a star and you can sponsor that ornament in honor of or in memory of a loved one. If you hover over an ornament you can read the messages of hope or love left by others. It is pretty cool to see, and you can do it from your phone.”
Meadows said everyone will enjoy the fun, seeing the beautiful trees and joining in to bid.
“You will be supporting the community, and this is our largest fundraiser of the year,” she said.
“I have three in my basement that have come from the Festival of Trees,” Bollinger said. “One that I use every single year has a theme of friendship. It has very homey decorations that exult the joys of friendship and the season.”
Proceeds of the Festival of Trees benefit The Shepherd’s Staff, a nonprofit providing assistance to people in crisis within the Carroll County community.
John Street Quarters is located at 28 John St. in Westminster. The hours are as follows: Friday, Nov. 29 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 30 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.