16th annual Festival of Trees on display in Steamboat this week

Nicole Inglis
The Tread of Pioneers Museum hosts the Festival of Trees from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Monday.
Matt Stensland

If you go

What: 16th annual Festival of Trees

When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Monday

Where: Tread of Pioneers Museum, Eighth and Oak streets

Cost: Free for Routt County residents with identification, $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and $1 for children

— The Festival of Trees has had 16 years to grow its roots into the community organizations, nonprofits and businesses of Steamboat Springs.

This year, the annual Tread of Pioneers Museum fundraiser is glowing as brightly as ever, with 16 Christmas trees, hand-decorated by local organizations and lit with holiday lights, adorning its rooms at Eighth and Oak streets.

The trees will be on display through Monday at the museum from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free for Routt County residents with identification, $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and $1 for children.

Museum Executive Director Candice Bannister said it is the museum’s only fundraiser.

“The reason why we continue the event is because it’s such a great holiday tradition,” Bannister said. “It gets people in the mood for the holidays, and it’s a community event.”

The event involves organizations and businesses on several levels.

Ace Hardware donates the Christmas trees, and the museum secures decorators such as elementary schools and nonprofit agencies.

Then one local business sponsors each tree, and after Monday, that tree will be moved to a location of the business’ choice.

Thursday, the museum will offer a tea party for local seniors at 3 p.m. to enjoy the trees with the violin music of Lowell Whiteman Primary School students.

“We very much value the seniors in our community, and we want to give them a dedicated event and honor them so they can have their own dedicated time with the trees,” Bannister said.

Each tree was decorated in a unique fashion by the organizations last week. Some trees embodied the spirit of Christmas with wreaths, frosted ornaments and red ribbons.

Others projected the spirit of the organization’s message.

The Routt County Habitat for Humanity tree, a new addition this year, was decorated with photographs of Habitat beneficiaries and quotes written on silver ribbons.

“We love having our own bedroom and not sharing with my mom and dad,” one Habitat client’s child wrote.

Another Habitat client wrote that he or she was thankful the house would stay dry this winter now that the organization helped fix a leak.

“It’s creative, and it touches on so many different things,” Bannister said about the tree decorations. “We’ve got a community of people getting together: you’ve got schools and nonprofits able to talk about what they’re doing.”

Cindy DelValle, education coordinator for the Animal Assistance League of Northwest Colorado, has been decorating a tree for the fundraiser for about eight years. She said the fundraiser is a great way to have community organizations support one another.

“I thought it would be nice to also help another nonprofit organization,” DelValle said. “That’s why we wanted to do it. Our theme is helping homeless or unwanted animals, and our theme is always an animal welfare kind of decoration.”

This year, the tree is adorned with stuffed dogs, cats and even horses.

Other trees include a Routt County 4-H tree decorated with pictures of students and their animals. Historic Routt County decorated a “money tree” as a tribute to the economy.

“I think every single one has its special meaning and special decorations on it,” DelValle said. “I think they’re all beautiful.”

— To reach Nicole Inglis, call 871-4204 or e-mail

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