ASHLAND — The 37th annual Festival of Trees and Trains at the Paramount Arts Center continues this weekend.
Considered the biggest yearly fundraiser for the Paramount Woman’s Association, the organization has come up with a combination of activities and the chance to bid on elaborately decorated Christmas trees and other items that go home to the winner.
The festival will be open from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 25 (Thanksgiving Day), from noon until 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 26-27, and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 28. Saturday will feature hot cocoa plus activities for the kids onstage with Santa from noon until 2 p.m. For a full live entertainment schedule, photos of the Christmas trees up for bid and ticket information, visit pacfott.org.
Tamme Grubb is the director of the Festival of Trees and Trains for the Paramount Woman’s Association, an all-volunteer organization that helps the historic Paramount Arts Center by developing educational programs that bring the arts to local students. Since 1973, the group has also raised funds for the preservation of the theater that opened in 1931.
“About eight years ago, I joined the Paramount Woman’s Association, and then eventually took over as chair of the Festival of Trees and Trains one year later,” Grubb said. “It is very rewarding to do this festival, but it is a lot of work. It takes about 10 months to plan the festival with a committee of about 15 people. But once it all comes together, the community absolutely loves this event. The kids of the Tri-State love this event as well, which makes it all worth it. The biggest work is to gather our sponsors and then to get members and businesses of our community to decorate our Christmas trees that go up for bid. If it wasn’t for the community, we wouldn’t have a festival because they are the ones that donate and decorate the trees and the stockings and the wreaths and all of our wonderful items that we put up for bid.”
What is special about the Christmas trees offered every year is that they are elaborately decorated beforehand, ready to be put up in the highest bidder’s home or business. This has proven to be a creative way to raise money for a good cause, with those who participate receiving a beautiful tree for their residence.
“We have a new category at the festival that we have never had before, and that will be decorated stockings,” Grubb said. “They will run on the entire front of the Paramount stage. Also returning for the third year is the popular decorated bowling pins, which are painted and transformed. We have about 35 decorated bowling pins this year. We provide the pins, which are old and used bowling pins that have been up-cycled, and folks then turn them into works of art.”
For most of the 37 years of the Festival of Trees and Trains, there was a clipboard in front of each decorated tree, stockings and more so folks could bid on them. Now, the bidding process has become more high-tech.
“This year, all bidding will be done online,” Grubb said. “Now, when you walk through the theater, you use your phone camera and land on the QR code, and it takes you directly to the bid page of that tree. The best part of that is if you walk through the festival today and bid on a tree, later on if you are outbid and you really want that tree, you will get an email letting you know you were outbid and it will give you a chance to bid higher. This gives people a better chance at getting the items they really want to own. And if you are unable to come to the festival this year, no matter where you are, you can go to our website and look at all of our items there and bid online from anywhere.”
Along with time for the kids to spend with Santa on Saturday afternoon, there will be a full slate of live music entertainment on the stage all weekend. There will also be a Vendor Shop at the festival, where folks can peruse items made by local arts and crafts creators.
One thing that won’t be as prominent this year as in years past is train displays. The volunteers who usually provide the trains moved out of state. So, the folks at the Paramount are putting the word out that they are looking for anyone who can produce a train display.