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SOUTH POINT, Ohio — It is the purpose of an area’s Chamber of Commerce to advocate for local businesses and to highlight what is unique about that particular region.

Seven years ago, the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce came up with the idea to create a free holiday season event that has blossomed into the Festival of Trees and Christmas Market.

Happening from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. this Friday and Saturday, the heart of the event is the array of pre-decorated Christmas trees and wreaths created by local residents and businesses that folks can view and then try to win by silent auction. The proceeds from this silent auction go to scholarships for local students and community development programs for local businesses.

But there is much more to this event.

In addition to the Christmas tree and wreath silent auction, local artists have been invited to set up a market and sell their goods. Santa Claus will make an appearance, as will two live reindeer. Horse-drawn wagon rides are also in the mix, as well as entertainment and food trucks.

Saturday is Kids Day, and that means Breakfast with Santa at 10 a.m., as well as a Christmas maze, pony cart rides and candle making, all ending at 2 p.m.

All of this happens at the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce building, located at 216 Collins Ave. in South Point, Ohio.

Kicking the weekend off will be a 5K Luminary Run happening Thursday, Nov. 18. Registration for the run is $30 before the race starts at 6:30 p.m. at Point Industrial Park in South Point.

The festival will end Saturday evening with multiple church choirs that will each sing for a prize, and then all in attendance will be invited to sing Christmas songs together with the York Family Sing-a-long from 5 to 7 p.m.

The festival is free, although admission to Kids Day will be a donation of at least one nonperishable food item that will benefit the Harvest for the Hungry Food Pantry.

Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce Director Shirley Dyer said the Festival of Trees and Christmas Market has grown exponentially over the years.

“It’s a wonderful thing,” said Dyer. “The Festival of Trees first started in Proctorville seven years ago and then we moved it down here to the Chamber building, and it was then that we added the Christmas Market featuring local vendors who come in and sell their arts and crafts. The first year we had 18 arts and crafts vendors, and this year we have 39 vendors.”

The number of pre-decorated Christmas trees and wreaths up for bid has also grown over the years. This year, however, the silent auction is available online, and people may bid that way in addition to viewing and bidding on the trees and wreaths in person. To see the pre-decorated Christmas trees and wreaths, look for the link at lawrencecountyohio.org, facebook.com/lawrencecountycofc or call 740-377-4550.

“What we do for the online side of the silent auction is we take two or three photos of each tree and then host it on an auction website,” said Marty Conley of the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce. “Folks will be able to jump on the auction site, linked to our Chamber website or Facebook page, then look at the Christmas trees and the reserve price for each tree and then bid on the one they like the most by silent auction. Those that provide the highest bid will be emailed if they win. Armstrong Cable company also came in and videoed the trees as well for the same website, and you will also be able to share the Christmas tree bidding site on social media.”

“We have 34 pre-decorated Christmas trees and wreaths up for silent auction this year,” adds Dyer. “The Chamber purchases the trees, and then businesses all over bring in their decorations to represent whatever theme they have decided on. Somehow, we have always sold every tree in the silent auctions. About 10 years ago, Ruth Cline had a Festival of Trees in Huntington and I worked with her then. When I came over to Lawrence County as the new director of the Chamber, I wanted to do it over here because no one else was doing a festival like that other than in Ashland. And it has done very well since then.”

All of the activities lead up to the bonfire and Christmas music portion of the festival.

“We are calling it a sort of ‘Battle of the Church Choirs,’” said Dyer. “Any church choir in the area can enter the competition, where they will sing one song and then be judged, with a trophy and a gift given out. Then, after that, we are inviting the entire county and anyone else who is in attendance at the festival to join in with the York Family Sing-a-long to sing Christmas carols.”

More information can be found at lcfestivaloftrees.com or 740-377-4550.

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