LEEDS — The Fortnightly Club of Catskill’s 22nd annual Festival of Trees saw record participation, with attendees calling it a great way to ring in the holiday season.
The club, which raises money to provide whatever services are needed in the community - from buying medical equipment for certain buildings to scholarships - held its annual festival and one of its biggest fundraisers Saturday at Anthony’s Banquet Hall, though the festivities started Friday night during the opening gala.
The festival featured live Christmas music from eight different acts throughout the day, as well as raffles and an auction.
Saturday started with a breakfast with Santa Claus, then the public exhibition, and ended with dessert, hot chocolate and music with the Jolly Ol’ Elf.
Colleen Moon and her 10-year-old granddaughter Adrianna are longtime fans of the festival.
“We have come every year since she was young, since she was three years old I think, and she loves it,” Moon said. “It is exciting. I love the creativity used on the trees. They are beautiful.”
Adrianna said the festival is a great way to get into the holiday season.
“I love the food, the shopping and how everyone gets together,” she said.
“It is a great community event. It really brings the community out,” Colleen Moon said.
Rhonda Margaisso, of Greenville, said she has been coming to the festival for almost 20 years.
“I started coming to this when it was at the Leeds Armory,” Margaisso. “I would bring my kids.”
On Saturday, Margaisso went to the festival with her parents.
“It really kicks off the season and is a great way to bring people together,” she said. “There isn’t Christmas without coming here.”
Margaisso said she loves the creativity that goes into decorating the trees.
“I used to design some of these trees way back,” Margaisso said. “The caroling is great too, and all the proceeds go to the community.”
Colleen Wilkinson, of Athens, said this was her second year attending the festival.
“I enjoyed it so much the first time,” she said. “It really gets you in the mood for the holidays.”
“Today was a good day for it,” she added, referring to the cold temperatures outside the hall.
“It has Santa, wreaths, trees and raffles, everything for the season,” Wilkinson said.
Trees and wreaths were donated for the event and custom decorated by members of the community.
The trees are auctioned off at minimum bids of ranging from $20 to $150, and this year 50 trees were offered, a record for the festival, according to the co-chair for the event Christa Bush.
“That’s more trees than we have ever had before. The old record was 39 trees,” Bush said.
Bush said the festival is one of two big fundraisers the Fortnightly Club holds every year.
“It is a really good community event and it really kicks off the season,” Bush said.