The Chesapeake Cancer Alliance will host the 11th annual Festival of Trees, one of its major fundraisers to support local cancer patients and their families, this weekend at the Bel Air Armory.
The festival features decorated Christmas trees, gingerbread houses and wreaths sold at auction and the opportunity for shoppers to check out a slew of craft vendors and children's entertainment. It runs 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 27. The Armory is at 37 N. Main St. in downtown Bel Air.
The festivities kick off Friday evening with a Preview Party at the Armory.
"We're going to be very decked out and very festive with those decorated trees and wreaths and gingerbread houses," Sandy Guzewich, president of CCA, said. "It's going to be beautiful."
About 40 to 45 trees have been donated for the festival, along with more than 60 wreaths and about 15 gingerbread houses, according to Guzewich. People can bid on those items through a silent auction during the weekend.
There will be about 15 vendors in the Armory, selling additional goods. Children's entertainment and children's vendors will be outside under a heated tent in the adjacent Frederick Ward Park. Guzewich said having the children's activities outside frees up space for more vendors in the Armory.
Festival proceeds benefit the Cancer LifeNet Program at the Patricia D. and Scot M. Kaufman Cancer Center at the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air.
Cancer patients, as well as their families, can use a variety of support services and programs offered by Cancer LifeNet as they go through treatment. Services include diet and exercise programs, alternative treatments such as acupuncture and a counseling service for children and grandchildren of cancer patients, called the CLIMB program, or Children's Lives Include Moments of Bravery.
The services are free to residents of Harford County, western Cecil County and northern Baltimore County, Guzewich said.
"Everything that they do at Cancer LifeNet is free of charge, and it's free of charge because of fundraising and philanthropic donations, so the Festival of Trees is critical to that," she said.
The Chesapeake Cancer Alliance, a nonprofit volunteer organization, works to raise at least $200,000 for Cancer LifeNet each year. The Festival of Trees covers about a quarter of that amount.
Guzewich said the net proceeds from last year's festival were $52,000. The CCA hosts events throughout the year, such as the Amanda Hichkad CCA Celebration Walk in the spring, to raise money for Cancer LifeNet.
She said $160,000 has been donated for those services so far this year.
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"We're working very hard to exceed that $200,000 mark because the programs and services are just invaluable," Guzewich said.
The preview party is presented by MaGerk's and offers the public the opportunity to be the first to see, bid and buy from all the decorated trees, wreaths and gingerbread houses.
With a $30 ticket, a guest is entitled to three-day admission to the Festival of Trees and may partake of the food prepared by MaGerk's with a complimentary adult beverage, and a dessert donated by Wegmans. Easy listening entertainment will be provided by John Sobus. Tickets are available at Preston's of Bel Air, Jonathan's Weddings and Flowers of Forest Hill or by calling Guzewich at 410-838-3987.
The weekend event features uniquely decorated Christmas trees, wreaths and gingerbread houses created by local organizations, businesses and individuals and sold by silent auction all weekend. CCA Festival of Trees also includes gift boutiques, children's crafts and entertainment, a café and bake table and more. The Children's Area includes make and take crafts, specialty vendors, storytellers and surprises. Admission is $12, and children 12 and younger are free. A $2 coupon is available at uchfoundation.org.
The Main Street Tower Restaurant will also host "Breakfast with Santa" Saturday, Nov. 26, from 8 a.m. to noon. Costs are $11 for each adult, $8 for each child under 12 and free for children 3 and younger. Reservations may be made with the Main Street Tower at 410-838-8007.
The CCA is a volunteer group, dedicated to supporting cancer patients and their families and friends in our community through all stages of illness by expanding prevention, education, treatment, research and support programs at UM UCH through the Cancer LifeNet Program.
For more information about CCA Festival of Trees and the CCA, visit www.uchfoundation.org.