Trees of every shape and size line the Mountain American Expo Center. Going on for 48 years, Festival of Trees helps raise money, heal hearts and bring a mixture of beauty with charity to help children in need. Though there were trees as the name entails, there were also wreaths, centerpieces, and for the first time this year some nativity scenes for sale. With most of the exuberant and over the top trees already purchased, it leaves others to ogle at the tear jerking stories and jaw dropping prices that these must have been bought at.
“We have over 750 trees, that doesn’t include wreaths, centerpieces, gingerbread, and playhouses. I don’t know if there is a way to count all of the items for sale here,” said Racial Hays, publicity chair for the executive board. This effort is totally voluntary and none of the staff that are there are receiving any compensation from this event. Last year all 2.7 million earned was donated to intermountain healthcare according to Racial.
Many of the trees have stories behind them. Trees dedicated to the saved, the dead and the lost but not forgotten. “A Man Who Loved Utah” dedicated to Larry H. Miller decorated by his family. Adorning the tree are tickets to the jazz, and signed jerseys from the team are also included to the lucky buyers of this. The stories and people behind the trees have some connection to Intermountain or are used for a healing process, according to Hays.
Trees also dedicated to others such as officer David Romrell, who fell in the line of duty on Nov. 24th, had a last min entry tree made by Tara Hood, the daughter of a fallen officer. With this special exception being made most entries and spaces need to be booked months in advance.
“My daughter volunteers a lot, and she volunteers me for everything. It’s fun, and it’s good to spend time with her.” said Elsia Curtas, a volunteer. People from all walks of life come to do many different kinds of work here, like making fudge, watching the trees and giving information. There are about 30,000 volunteers that come to help with this event.
“This is my very first time [coming to this festival], it’s really cool so far. It surprised me to see most of the trees were sold, which makes me happy because it’s all about charity,” said Marcial Romero, a festival goer. Many of the bids for the trees, such as the Larry H. Miller tree, were put on auction Nov. 27, not to say there still aren’t some left to be bought. Trees that aren’t purchased are donated to the Primary children’s. Many of the trees were purchased by representatives of companies such as OC Tanner, Progrexion, Nu-Skin and many more. According to Hays, some purchases can even go right back to the families who made the trees depending on the situation.