The Ashland Beacon
In a year that has been anything but normal, it’s good to know that some traditions will continue. The 36th annual Festival of Trees and Trains will open Friday, November 20, and run through Sunday, November 29. Hours this year will be from noon until 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon until 6 p.m. on Sunday, and 4-8 p.m. on Thanksgiving.
“Our theme this year is Hometown Holidays,” said FOTT committee president Tamme Grubb. “We felt that this year, more than ever before, with everything going on in the world with the pandemic, we wanted to provide a sense of normalcy and still host this event that is a treasured tradition for so many in our community.”
The event will go on, but that is not to say that it will be the same. The committee is strictly adhering to guidelines set forth by the Boyd County Health Department. Masks are required, as is social distancing. Volunteers will help attendees navigate through the dazzling displays of Christmas trees, wreaths, decorated bowling pins, and more.
“In a normal year, many of our local schools bring classes in for field trips to see the Christmas trees,” said Grubb, “but since field trips aren’t allowed because of Covid, we have decided to provide free admission to children age 12 and under, with a paid adult admission.” The committee is still looking for sponsors to help offset the costs of this advantage.
And what is Christmas without that jolly, old elf, Santa Claus? There will be an opportunity for children to visit Santa, socially distanced, to protect him for the big day. Parents can take photos from a safe distance as well, during both Saturdays of the event.
Trees, wreaths, and bowling pins are being registered daily through the website, www.PACFOTT.org. “We will have the same amount of beautifully decorated items as always this year,” she said. Bowling pins have been mentioned, which seems unusual. Last year, the committee was able to acquire a number of bowling pins that creative people painted with holiday designs. “Those turned out to be a very popular item to decorate,” Grubb said.
One popular part of the festival has always been bidding on the trees, wreaths, gift packages, and bowling pins. An online bidding option is available this year for the first time. Visitors can go to PACFOTT.org, and check out the items, then place a bid. Voting for the People’s Choice award for favorite trees can be done using the ticket purchased at the door, or also online.
Also new this year will be a virtual tour, available online Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, and the next day, Black Friday. “We, the committee, decided to offer the virtual tour and online bidding this year so that everyone can enjoy the Festival of Trees and Trains,” Grubb said. “We are very aware that people may not be comfortable attending in-person at this time, but we wanted to give them a chance to view the items and hopefully put them in the holiday spirit.” Check the website for information on accessing the virtual tour.
“Another new offering this year is the Candy Cane Café, where local bakeries will have items available for purchase,” she said. “And as always, the vendor shop will be open to provide our vendors a place to see their unique creations. We have some very interesting vendors this year.”
“It takes a small army of volunteers to make this spectacular event happen every year,” Grubb said, “and this year, we’d appreciate the volunteer support of the community.” Volunteers can sign up for a four-hour shift on the FOTT website, www.PACFOTT.org, or call volunteer chairperson Ashley Fletcher, 606.465.8931.
The committee is still seeking sponsors to help fund this event, which is one of the major fundraising events to support the Paramount Arts Center. The loss of OLBH, and layoffs elsewhere due to the pandemic, has hurt donations this year. Any business that would like to help sponsor the event can also contact Fletcher, Grubb, or any member of the committee.