The 2017 Festival of Trees is hoping that winter’s return to the area will put people in the ‘spirit of giving’ as the annual special pre-holiday fundraising event hits Ponoka this week. File photo

Ponoka Festival of Trees to reach for the tree top

Festival of Trees event looking to help make improvements for long-term care patients

This week is moving-in day for Ponoka’s annual pre-holiday fundraiser that hopes to reach past the tree tops with cash.

The 2017 Festival of Trees, with proceeds going to the Ponoka and District Health Foundation, kicks off on Nov. 16 with its annual gala at the Calnash Ag Event Centre, followed the next day with the senior’s tea — featuring entertainment by John and Sheila Pateman — and the always popular Breakfast with Santa on Nov. 18 that is being catered by Bob Hepp and Company.

This year, the PDHF is putting the money raised toward improvements to the bath facilities for long-term care patients at the Ponoka hospital.

Sherry Gummow, festival committee chair, explained the event wouldn’t be as successful as it has been without the continued participation of the numerous volunteers and sponsors.

“Without them, this event just doesn’t happen and we appreciate them all,” she said, noting ticket sales are picking up for all three events.

“If you truly want to be at one of these events, you should plan to get your tickets as soon as you can.”

Something that pretty much everyone appreciated last year is set to again be the big attraction — the Laurie River Lodge fishing adventure.

“It was very well received last year and we’re glad to have them back,” she stated. “Another huge item will once again be the 100 bottle wine tree that was so hotly contested last year.”

A few other auction items that will draw a lot of interest include the barbecue for 12 from IGA/Hammy’s Spirits, two ‘Firefighter for a Day’ packages — one each for a boy and a girl — from the Ponoka Fire Department, special World Professional Chuckwagon Association memorabilia from recently retired champion driver Kelly Sutherland, massage packages and a new package courtesy of Strand Media.

“And we are once again keeping things simple for everyone this year by using the Text2Bid app for our silent auction items,” Gummow said.

“It really cut down on the work for us and let the people know right after the auction closed that they won and to come pick up and pay for the item. It also saved people from running up during the gala to see if their bid was still on top and got a lot more people involved as well.”

That being said, the fundraiser is also looking for some more silent auction items, which can be dropped off either at Jones Agencies or Busted Ladies Lingerie.

Gummow added everything is set to be moved in this week, so anyone that can help out with decorating or dressing tables or whatever else needs to be done would be welcome. Anyone that wishes to do so is asked to contact Gummow.

The festive gala dinner, complete with entertainment and the live/silent auctions, opens the doors at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 16. Meanwhile, the senior’s tea goes from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Nov. 17 and the Breakfast with Santa swings the doors open at 8:30 a.m. Nov. 18.

There will be general admission ($5, 12 and under free) on Nov. 17 and 18 for anyone wanting to get a peek at the decorated trees or get in on the bidding for the silent auction items. That will run from 5 to 9 p.m. Nov. 17 and between 1 and 4 p.m. on Nov. 18.

Tickets for all three of the main events (cash or cheque only) are available at Busted Ladies Lingerie with the gala costing $60 each or $450 for a table of eight, the senior’s tea is $6 each and the Breakfast with Santa — which includes photos with Santa, raffles, prizes, gift bags for the kids and a buffet — priced at $20 for adults and $10 for those 12 years and under while tables of eight cost $125.

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