Organizers are putting the finishing touches on this year’s Country Christmas Festival of Trees, which kicks off on Nov. 29 at the Ponoka Stampede Grounds.
“Everything is going fantastic,” said Diane Rose, the festival’s coordinator.
“We are getting bigger and better every year. We’ve actually extended the festival of trees onto the new side of the Stagecoach, and it’s just about completely decorated in there,” she said.
“There are a lot of exciting bid items for the live and silent auctions. Our new website will also be up and running, so people will be able to go on the Ponoka and District Health Foundation site and that will give them all of the information they are going to need to know about the silent auction as well,” she said.
“There is a lot of exciting stuff going on this year.”
An open house for viewing the trees runs Nov. 29 from 4 to 8 p.m. Donations to the food bank or the foundation will be taken.
The opening night gala and auction runs Nov. 30 with the doors opening at 6 p.m.
Highlights include live entertainment, live and silent auctions, and more. Tickets are $60 each or $450 for a table of eight.
The Seniors Country Christmas and Coffee is set for Dec. 1, from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. This event features live entertainment, prize draws, and refreshments. Tickets are $15 each.
The Ladies Country Christmas Wine Night runs Dec. 1, with doors opening at 7 p.m. Attendees will enjoy live entertainment, live and silent auctions, wine, appetizers, and more.
Singer Jamie Woodfin will be featured at this event as well, said Rose. Tickets are $60 each or $450 for a table of eight.
The Family Day Country Christmas runs Dec. 2 from 9 a.m. to noon. and from 1 to 4 p.m.
Highlights include live entertainment, a petting zoo, a concession, and prizes. Tickets are $5 per person or $20 for a family of five.
New this year is the Guys and Gals Blue Jean Night, which runs Dec. 2, with doors opening at 7 p.m., said Rose.
Highlights include live entertainment, live and silent auctions, and appetizers. Tickets are $60 each or $450 for a table of eight. She said the Dueling Pianos will be featured at this event as well.
“For the Guys and Gals Blue Jean Night, the Ladies’ event, and the Family Day, people will be able to get those tickets at the door as well, she said, although there is limited spacing for the Guys and Gals’ and the ladies’ events.
“I’m hoping that we sell out before then, you never know, but we are still going to welcome whoever comes to the door. Even on gala night, we probably will have a space here and there; so people will still be welcomed in through the door,” she said.
Last year’s festival saw the purchase of three Space Lab cardiac monitoring units (three mounted and two portable monitors) for the emergency department from funds raised at the event.
Proceeds from this year’s event will go to the purchase of a mobile X-ray system for the Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre. These units run in the price range of about $160,000.
In 2019, the last full, in-person festival to be held before COVID hit and the first year PDHF took over organizing it, the event raised $100,000.
In 2021, while PDHF wasn’t able to hold a traditional in-person festival, their appeal for donations campaign, the ‘Un-Festival of Trees,’ raised $75,000 for new beds and mattresses in long-term care at the Ponoka hospital.
The event made a comeback in 2022 to a full, in-person festival, however, due to added expenses, made far less than the fundraising goal.
Rose said it was something of a learning curve, but she’s confident of the community’s growing support for the Festival of Trees heading into this year’s event.
“Everyone has been fantastic. They are contributing in one way or another. If they can’t donate money towards the event, they are supporting it in other ways, like buying a table or (planning) to come and bid,” she said.
“Of course, you will have ups and downs along the way with things, but you still go for it. At the end of the day, it’s satisfying to know you’ve done something good for the community. I will do everything it takes, and put my 150 per cent into it.”
Rose said that anyone interested in volunteering at the Festival of Trees can also call her directly at 403-597-1054.
For tickets and information, call the Ponoka and District Health Foundation office at 403-783-3341.
Tickets are also available at the Sommer Home Hardware Building Centre, the Ponoka News, and the FCSS office.