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Holiday event sells decorated trees for nonprofit groups

Heather Nereson, 12, displays a wreath, crafted by the Hayden Valley Elementary Gift Festival for Sunday's Christmas Tree Auction in Hayden, as auctioneer Kenny Kawcak calls the auction to the crowd. Mountain Valley Bank purchased the piece, which was one of several dozen up for auction, for $50.
Joel Reichenberger

— About 100 people filled the Routt County Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall on Sunday to bid on Christmas decorations that ranged from the traditional to the inventive.

Nonprofit and community groups entered 75 decorated trees, wreaths and centerpieces to be sold to the highest bidder at the annual Christmas tree auction in Hayden. The auction raised about $5,800 by selling 55 items for 22 groups last year. Organizers hoped to top that total with 20 more entries this year.

Classic ornaments such as candy canes and nutcrackers adorned some trees, while another was covered in clothespins holding cash. The latter tree wasn’t being auctioned, but rather was collecting donations for the Hayden Food Bank. Spirit of the West Foundation submitted several creative wreaths made out of materials such as rope, barbed wire and antlers.

Organizations that participated in hopes to raise money included Love in the Name of Christ, the Routt County Fair Board and the Hayden High School Travel Club, whose horse-collar wreath fetched $100. The event welcomed region-wide participation, and organizations from Moffat County and South Routt took part.

“All the money goes back into the community,” organizer Lori Hallenbeck said.

The Soroco chapter of Future Farmers of America submitted a tree, two centerpieces and a wreath. Siblings Danielle and Jephrey Donaldson said the money raised would help put on a banquet and send FFA members to conventions and leadership conferences.

“We’re pretty much happy with whatever we get,” Jephrey Donaldson said.

Hallenbeck gave what proved to be sage advice to a group of seven young Girl Scouts. After the girls had introduced themselves, Hallenbeck told them to stay put at the front of the room and look cute for the crowd as auctioneer Kenny Kawcak, of Craig, started the bidding. The tree went for $140 to Bill Hayden and his son, Dave, owners of the Hayden Mercantile.

“We always give one (tree) to the elementary school and one to The Haven” Assisted Living Center, said Bill Hayden, who, like Dave, was in his apron and raced back to work shortly after winning the tree from Brownie Girl Scout Troop 217. “It’s important because the community supports it, and they support us, and we, in turn, support them. It’s a good thing.”

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