Santa’s elves are hard at work preparing for Garrett County’s holiday kick-off event, the Festival of Trees. To be held November 24 and 25, at the Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall on Hwy. 219 in McHenry, general admission is $5 per person, for hours of holiday fun for everyone.

Celebrating its tenth year, this cheerful, affordable family event has become a tradition for hundreds of locals, as well as visitors to the County. Benefitting the Dove Center, Garrett County’s domestic violence and sexual assault services program, the Festival of Trees was developed by their Board and Staff, to serve as the organization’s major fundraiser. Since its inception, it has raised well over $100,000, which has helped the agency to leverage State and Federal Grant funds by acting a match. The event was held at the Oakland Armory.   The community’s love for the event prompted rapid growth, and soon necessitated a change in venue to the Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall, where it has been held since. A committee of volunteers with a passion for the event and the Dove Center’s mission, meets tirelessly throughout the year to plan, improve and expand it.

“It thrills me that our major fundraiser is an event that promotes positive, quality, family time, because our ultimate goal is to create happy families. The fact that the Festival offers families a place to go to enjoy safe, healthy activities together, is as gratifying to me as the event’s monetary success.”, stated Heather Hanline, Dove Center Executive Director.

The Festival has evolved to include something for everyone. Adults and children are in awe as they stroll through the forest of decorated trees, wreaths, and centerpieces donated by local designers. Hours of holiday entertainment is available through Frosty’s Funland, where children create keepsake crafts (this year’s theme is Frosty), sand art, and have their faces painted in holiday themes. Mrs. Claus’ Bakery is open both days, where children decorate Christmas cookies, often with the guidance of Mrs. Claus herself! They are then on their way to the Crazy Christmas Hair booth, where they emerge with colorful, creative styles. Several characters will make appearances throughout the day, including Santa, Mrs. Claus, Frosty, and Gingerbread man, as well as Elf and Elsa. Play with interactive Lego robotics with SuGO & Team 1629.   Adults and children can get a jump on Christmas shopping, as well. Children can shop and wrap for just $1 per gift in the Elfenheim Mall. Adults can browse for hours through nearly 50 craft and artisan vendors, or purchase from the newly expanded “Buy It Now” area, which includes hundreds of quality items at great prices. They are sure to find the perfect, unique gift for that special someone.

A variety of concessions are available throughout the day, in Mrs. Claus’ kitchen, and the Kona Ice truck will be on-site, offering delicious shaved ice treats! A “Make Your Own Sundae” bar will also be available.

For a truly memorable day, families can begin with Breakfast with Santa, to be served Friday and Saturday morning at 9 am or 10 am. Breakfast with Santa requires a special $10 ticket, which then covers admission for the entire day, a full breakfast, a photo with Santa in his sleigh, and a gift from Santa. Reservations are encouraged for Breakfast with Santa, and can be made by calling 301-746-8117, or emailing [email protected]. Tickets and reservations can also be made through eventbrite: (https://www.eventbrite.com/e/breakfast-with-santa-fot-2017-tickets-36664622874)

Author of the Piper the Elf series, Colleen Driscoll, will be doing a book signing during Breakfast with Santa on both days this year! She will have copies of her books at the event, but they can also be purchased on Amazon and Headline Books. Colleen grew up on a small farm in New Germany, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in Med ical Technology, where she worked in the clinical laboratory setting. After marrying her husband and raising four children, Colleen began writing stories. Colleen believes that creativity can be expressed in many ways and loves that her writing entertains children and adults of all ages. She especially enjoys meeting her fans andinspiring others to write.

The grand finale of the event is Saturday evening at 6 pm, when the live auction begins. Registered bidders can relax and enjoy light refreshments and a cash bar by Dutch’s at Silver Tree, and bid on a favorite tree, wreath or centerpiece (free Garrett County delivery sponsored by Taylor-Made Deep Creek Vacations and Sales within a 30 mile radius). No buyer premium!

For more information on the event, including sponsorship and designer forms, visit www.fotgc.org. For more information about the Dove Center, visit www.gcdovecenter.org, or call 301-334-9000. Both can also be found on Facebook.

We’re grateful to our wonderful sponsors:

ANGEL: Crossroads Church,

STARS: GCC Technologies, Sorelle’s Pizza Pub, Mt. Top Tree Farm

CANDY CANES: Dutch’s at Silvertree, Taylor-Made, Inn at Deep Creek

SNOWFLAKES: Allegany Hearing and Balance, Spring Creek Outfitters, Deep Creek Marina, West Central Equipment, Nancy Jo Fratz/Railey Realty, CCS Computer Services, Lakeside Creamery, Website Design & Management:David Lantz & Robyn Billings, CCS Computer Services

MISTLETOE: Lake Front/CLS Printing, The Republican News, Deep Creek Times, Little Mountain Distributors, Deer Park Signs