CATSKILL — The Fortnightly Club of Catskill will bring holiday cheer to the community this weekend with the 24th annual Festival of Trees.
The festival was scheduled to kick off Friday night with a gala at Anthony’s Banquet Hall in Leeds from 7-10 p.m. Tickets are $25.
On Saturday and Sunday at Anthony’s Banquet Hall, visitors can admire dozens of trees on display and peruse various vendors for a $5 admission fee. Saturday hours are 11 a.m.- 5 p.m., Sunday is 11 a.m.- 4 p.m.
“It’s unbelievable what these decorators come up with year after year,” event chairwoman Christa Bush said. “It’s a great time to kick off the holiday season. It really gets you in the spirit and there is something for everyone.”
The festival will feature 56 trees, 30 wreaths, 15 wood items and 12 vendors, Bush said.
“It is the most [trees] we’ve ever had before,” Bush said.
When the event began in 1995, only about 20 trees were involved, Bush said.
“Each year the event becomes more and more successful,” she said. “We have raised upwards of $25,000.”
The money raised from admission, the raffle, the cafe and the trees all goes to the Fortnightly Club, Bush said.
“Every penny goes back out to the community,” she said.
The Fortnightly Club supports arts programs in local schools, local libraries and food pantries, scholarships at Columbia-Greene Community College and a new scholarship for emergency medical technicians, Bush said.
“Another good example is when the Elks Lodge needed a defibrillator and we helped them to get one,” she said.
In addition to the beautiful scenery, the festival will have live entertainment throughout the weekend provided by the Catskill High School band, chorus and glee club, the Resurrection Lutheran Church, Foggy Otis and the Good Times Band, Bush said.
Soups, sweets and other refreshments will be available for purchase at the cafe, Bush said.
Face painting will be available for kids and Santa will be on deck all weekend, Bush said.
The trees were judged Friday morning in a variety of categories. Ribbons will be presented prior to Friday’s gala, Bush said.
“We have Most Elegant, Most Creative, Most Whimsical, Most Traditional, Judge’s Choice,” she said.
At the gala, attendants will pick a People’s Choice award winner.
Throughout the weekend, visitors will also get to vote for their choice.
“You will get a ballot with your program when you come in the door,” Bush said. There will be a mailbox to submit ballots in after making a selection, Bush said.
Bush urges those interested in decorating or sponsoring a tree to get in touch with the Fortnightly Club.
“We contact those interested in the summer with the theme and the dates for the festival,” she said.
The trees range in size from six feet, which cost $175 to sponsor, seven and a half feet, which cost $225 to sponsor, to nine feet, which are $300.
Sponsors from near and far express interest in the event, Bush said.
“A law firm in Newburgh sponsored our cafe,” Bush said.
The festival also has a sponsor from Loudonville, she said.