IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) – The annual tradition at Elks Lodge, the Festival of Trees, returns. His theme this year is a winter wonderland. The lodge has been working hard for months to get everything ready for this year’s festival.
“We’ve been working on the festival for the past six months, meeting a few times a month and preparing everything. And we’ve got a lot of nice trees being put up over here by the Elks today, and I think we’ve got about 37 trees, big trees, and about the same number of mini trees. Table trees come with multiple doors, fireplace displays,” said Mike O’Bleness, the chairman of this year’s festival.
Caroline McPheeters is one of the decorators of a tree on display this year. She says designing a tree is fun but can be challenging. “It’s more fun every year. You can plan the decorations, the theme for the tree, this year it happens to be ‘bells will ring’.”
She says the plan for next year is already beginning to form. “I envision it (the design of the tree) a year in advance and now I’m starting to think about next year’s tree.” She also says her family is part of the process, helping her design the ornaments and find other decorations for the trees.
Some other participants in this year’s festival, Lexie Wilson and Mark Capner, have been attending the festival for six years.
Wilson says the experience was beyond awesome as it’s ear, nose and throat adorning for Alpine and how McPheeters changes the tree every year. “Every year we chose a different theme, different colors.”
Capner says it takes a collaborative effort as they go to different stores to make sure all the decorations are ready for the tree’s next release. “To be able to walk around to different craft shops and different craft markets to pick up year-round things to hang on her tree.”
They add that it is a labor of love and they invite everyone to come and see all the trees that are available this year.
O’Bleness says it’s special to see the talent and diverse designs on display. “It’s just really uplifting when you look at the talent that people are donating to make their trees and their decorations and then the companies that come in and buy those trees or whole individuals.”
O’Bleness says proceeds from the event will go to help those in need. “It’s a long-standing community event and tradition, and it’s great that festival proceeds can now be used to support people with disabilities throughout eastern Idaho through our non-profit event sponsor, the Development Workshop Foundation. “
Last year, O’Bleness said they raised money for six different charities. The fair will officially open on Monday November 14th and will run until Friday November 18th. It opens at 12pm on Monday and stays open until 9pm. After that, it’s open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. You can find it at Elks Lodge in Idaho Falls, 640 E Elva St, Idaho Falls, ID 83401