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Magic of Christmas unfolds at Festival of Trees

Story and photos by Sharon Harrison
Possibly the most magical space to be found anywhere in the County at this time of year, the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Auxiliary’s Festival of Trees fundraiser glowed, mesmerized and fascinated – in person this year.

There were trees, trees and more trees as far as the eye could see, beautifully decorated, colourful, twinkling, filling many rooms, drawing in the magic of the Christmas season.

Relieved to be back after two absent years of in-person events (held online in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic), the much-anticipated festival has long been declared the unofficial start of the Christmas season in Prince Edward County.

The popular community celebration is organized by volunteer members of the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Auxiliary who devote countless hours to making this special annual event happen year-after-year.

While the auxiliary volunteers are the back-bone of the event, it is the community that steps-up, generously donating, giving of things and time, to support this flagship fundraiser for the County’s hospital.

“This year feels like a lot of new beginnings,” said Liz Jones, PECMH Auxiliary volunteer and chairperson of the Festival of Trees. “We feel like it is time to celebrate again.”

“The Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Auxiliary’s Festival of Trees is just such a celebration. For many, the festival heralds the holiday season and all the magic of community and family.”

Back at Isaiah Tubbs Resort and Conference Centre on County Road 12 in West Lake once again, the three-day event again this year raised funds toward much-needed equipment for the hospital.

The auxiliary’s goal for this year’s festival is to purchase three vital signs monitor mounts and a Trophon, which is used to disinfect ultrasound probes, at a cost of almost $40,000.

“This year, the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation is raising over $1 million for medical equipment needed across our region.”

The idea behind the event has community members and businesses decorating a three-foot Christmas tree the auxiliary provides, or a donation of their choice including wreaths, art work, sculptures, quilts and home decor. The many varied entries are grand, funky, creative, colourful and illuminating, limited only by the imagination.

Once decorated or curated by the public, the donations go on display at the festival, which the public can peruse and admire free of charge, but most importantly, can bid and bid some more over the three-days of the silent auction-type event.

“The event harnesses the time and energies of hundreds of volunteers and generous donors,” said Jones.

For those participating in the silent auction, there was much to tempt. Whether it was alcoholic offerings, garden items, toys, crocheted and knitted items, golfing accessories, gift baskets, experiences or the many gift certificates, there really was something for everyone, for every taste including a Paddington bear tree and a Lego tree.

A few special items included a Beldon Atlas of Prince Edward, the Tremaine map, and a unique 19th century papier mâché storage container.

The Festival of Trees is the single largest fundraising event for the hospital auxiliary and it usually sees more than 200 decorated trees on display as well as bucket draws with many items on offer.

Children could meet with Santa Claus, who appeared for a few hours on both Saturday and Sunday, where he sat by the fireplace upstairs in the MacDonald Hall for photo opportunities.

The senses were also treated to the joyful sound of local musicians playing live in the restaurant over the three days adding to the cozy, festive ambience.

Entertainers Lenni Stewart and Tom Harris

Some of the participating musicians included Caleb Hutton, the Sine sisters, Mark Despault, the Library String Orchestra, and the Reasons among the line-up. Lenni Stewart’s powerful voice got the Saturday afternoon crowd going with some Christmas tunes, accompanied at times by Tom Harris, with Tom Dietzel on keyboard.

Running in conjunction with festival, the Perfectly Preserved sale of baked goods and preserves took place off-site this year in the back parking lot of the hospital. At the same time, the Auxiliary’s Second Time Around store on Picton Main Street held its much-anticipated Christmas Boutique.

For those who missed the event and would like to donate to the Festival of Trees, visit pecfestivaloftrees.ca. Learn more about The Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Auxiliary at pecmhaux.ca.

Lyne Lusk and Wendy Shaw with the Prince Edward County Quilters’ Guild selling raffle tickets for their fundraising quilt (background)

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  1. Andre says:

    Best Christmas event ever and for such a worthy cause…..so glad to see it back live

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