Changing the date of Festival of Trees was a “tough decision,” but organizers of the popular Lewiston-Clarkston Valley event are hoping it’s a hit with the community and allows longtime volunteers to spend Thanksgiving with their families.
Instead of the traditional Thanksgiving-week lineup, the festival’s “Community Day” will take place this Friday, and the sold-out gala, auction and dinner are set for Saturday night. In addition, the events have been moved from the Nez Perce County Fairgrounds to the Lewiston Elks Lodge.
D’Lynn Ottmar, chief development officer for the Tri-State Memorial Hospital Foundation, said the board of trustees and staff made the change because they felt it was important to give volunteers a reprieve.
“It was super tough,” Ottmar said, “but we have a lot of the same volunteers, year after year, and their holiday always revolves around the Festival of Trees. We want to honor those individuals and let them have a chance to spend Thanksgiving without any extra stress.”
Ottmar, who has been at the helm of the foundation for more than a year, said the location was changed because the festival doesn’t need as much space now that the annual tea is being held in the spring at the Red Lion.
“A lot of work goes into decorating at the fairgrounds,” Ottmar said. “With the tea being held in the spring now, it changes the dynamic, and we don’t need that huge of venue.”
Community Day runs from 4-8 p.m. Friday, with a remembrance ceremony honoring loved ones slated for 6 p.m. There’s no cost to attend, and visitors will have the opportunity to soak up the festive atmosphere and look at 13 uniquely decorated trees with a wide variety of themes, Ottmar said. Hot chocolate and cookies will be on hand and treats from Mrs. Pockets, along with chances to shop for miniature trees, wreaths and gifts.
The Christmas trees will be auctioned off at the gala dinner and dance on Saturday. Festivities kick off at 6 p.m. with a silent auction, followed by a plated dinner prepared by the Elks Lodge staff. Tickets went for $100 per person and 380 have been purchased, Ottmar said.
“The gala is sold out, so we’re off to a good start, Ottmar said. “We have great supporters and volunteers. This wouldn’t happen without all of their help.”
Launched in 1985, the festival raises money to help meet the needs of Tri-State Memorial Hospital and medical campus. Last year, the event grossed $230,000, she said.
Sandaine may be contacted at email@example.com or (208) 848-2264. Follow her on Twitter @newsfromkerri.