Festival of Trees brings the excitement of Christmas to McGregor

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With its dozens of beautifully-decorated trees, music, food, crafts and contests, the Festival of Trees has been a must-see holiday event for six years. This year’s event will be held on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 2 and 3, at Backwoods Bar and Event Center in McGregor. (NIT file photo)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

With its dozens of beautifully-decorated trees, music, food, crafts and contests, the Festival of Trees has been a must-see holiday event for six years.

“This event brings the excitement of Christmas to the McGregor community and shares it with all our friends in the surrounding area,” noted Anne Kruse, who helps organize the Festival of Trees along with many other community volunteers.

Sponsored by the McGregor Clan Lions Club, McGregor Historical Museum and McGregor-Marquette Center for the Arts, Festival of Trees will be held this year on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 2 and 3, at the Backwoods Bar and Grill and Event Center in McGregor. It will offer many of the same activities, as well as some new ones, for attendees of all ages to enjoy.

“It is family friendly and helps to raise funds for community projects,” Kruse shared.

This year’s proceeds will benefit three local causes, including the MFL MarMac Snack Pack Program, which gives “snack packs” of food to students in need over the weekends. Funds will also go to a grant match for a public art mural in McGregor, as well as to local Quilts of Valor volunteers, who honor area veterans with handmade quilts.

Festivities will kick off Friday, at noon, when attendees can begin viewing trees. Vendor booths will be set up offering crafts and other gifts, as well.

Forty-five trees will be on display throughout the weekend, all lovingly decorated by individuals, businesses and organizations from area communities. 

Festival-goers can vote for their favorite tree, and also make bids to take a tree home, until 8 p.m. Friday evening and throughout the day Saturday.

Among the other activities on Friday is an ugly sweater contest. From 3 to 8 p.m., people can stop by the event and show off their best ugly Christmas sweater. A photo will be taken and hung up; other attendees will check out the entries and vote for their favorite.

Back for the fourth year, from 4 to 9 p.m., will be the popular “Spirits of Christmas” pub crawl. For this adult-only event, a small fee entitles participants to “sample-size holiday drinks at six McGregor establishments,” explained Kruse. “Half of the money raised serves as a prize for the most popular drink, as voted by patrons of the crawl, and the other half goes to the chosen community projects.” 

In the evening, from 6 to 8 p.m., enjoy the sounds of the season, with sing-alongs and musical performances by Santa’s Combo and the local Victorian Carolers group. 

On Saturday, the event center will open at 9 a.m., for tree viewing, vendor booths and a bake sale.

New this year, from 1 to 4 p.m., will be the McGregor Holiday Home Tour, featuring seven beautiful homes located around the community. The event is sponsored by Turner Park: Fitness For All Ages, with proceeds going toward construction of a splash pad at Turner Park. Tickets for the home tour can be picked up at the Festival of Trees. For more details about the home tour, see the ad in this week’s paper and visit the “Turner Park: Fitness For All Ages” Facebook page.

Back at the event center, from 2 to 4 p.m., kids can decorate gingerbread houses. Santa Claus and his number-one elf will be available for selfies. During that time, MFL MarMac students will also sing carols and the Ogle sisters (Diane’s Aunts) will perform.

From 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday evening, enjoy the “Taste of McGregor.

“This year, our food contest features Christmas cookies,” Kruse said. “Come and sample area bakers’ finest efforts and vote for your favorite.”

The band River City Ruckus and other musical entertainment will be on stage from 6 to 8 p.m.

At 8 p.m., the winners of all the event contests will be revealed.

For more information about Festival of Trees and all its activities, see the ad in this week’s paper or visit the “Festival of Trees—McGregor, Iowa” Facebook page.

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