Festival of Trees event to kickoff the holidays

Audrey Dwyer
Four-year-old Leah Bannister checks out the decorations on one of the many trees inside the Tread of Pioneers Museum while her mom, Candice Bannister, executive director at the museum, takes care of last-minute details for the 2015 Festival of Trees.
John F. Russell

— The Christmas spirit returns to Steamboat this weekend with the 21st annual Festival of Trees fundraiser at the Tread of Pioneers Museum.

Known as a pre-holiday tradition, the annual event transforms the museum into a festive, colorful forest of uniquely decorated holiday trees, and the public is invited to enjoy the trees beginning Saturday. Daily viewings will be available from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Nov. 23.

Each of the 16 trees on display were decorated in various themes by a number of community groups and businesses. On Monday, event sponsors will have the opportunity to choose which of the trees they want to display at their places of business throughout the holiday season. There will also be a people’s choice award, in which attendees can vote for their favorite or most unique tree.

New this year will be the grand prize tree, decorated in traditional holiday embellishments and which, for the first time, will not be part of the sponsored trees.

Another new component this year is the scavenger hunt. Primarily for children, the activity will include a list of six riddles kids must attempt to solve by searching among the trees for six historical objects hidden there.

“This is the 21st year, and everybody loves to see all of the trees,” museum Executive Director Candice Bannister said. “There are plenty to look at and enjoy, but we also wanted to be able to have some new things to keep the event fresh and fun.”

The museum is also featuring a new kind of tree this year, displaying historical photos of horses and cowboys to create a western-themed tree in conjunction with “The Horse” exhibit currently on display.

Ornaments and themes found at this year’s festival include a “Frozen” tree, decorated by students from Holy Name Preschool, 3D print designs created by the Challenge Fund, box cars with miniature trees attached on top, handmade frames of local animals from Animal Assistance, a Day of the Dead themed tree and more.

“I thought the trees this year are really diverse; people were very unique and creative with decorations,” said Traci Clark, of Final Design, who has participated in the festival for the past eight years.

Clark’s tree, titled “Peace on Earth,” incorporates historical photos of landmarks from around the world inspired by her recent travels to six countries on four continents. She said the history tied to this event is part of the reason she continues to participate and to live in a town with such a rich cultural heritage.

“This is a fundraiser, but it seems less and less that the focus is about fundraising, because we have 16 decorating organizations and sponsoring businesses coming together to support the museum and several hundred people coming in over the next several days to see the trees,” Bannister said. “But it really feels like more of a community event that is fun and starts the holiday season.”

Other events revolving around the museum’s Festival of Trees include Museum Members’ Night, which will take place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Nov. 18, the Senior Tea event at 2 and 3 p.m. Nov. 19, and the Pioneer Christmas Story-time for kids at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Nov. 21.

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1

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