The Ashland Beacon
One of the most popular holiday attractions in the area, the Festival of Trees and Trains, is set to open Friday. The festival, now in its 36th year, will be open to the public at noon on Friday, November 20, and run through Sunday, November 29. The event, sponsored by the Paramount Woman’s Association, is one of the major fundraisers for the Paramount Arts Center.
“This will be the most unique festival in our history,” said FOTT committee chairperson Tamme Grubb, “but we wanted to give the community something traditional this year, with some sense of normalcy during these challenging times.”
The festival will be different in several ways. Of course, masks will be required and social distancing will be enforced. Cleaning and sanitizing will be conducted throughout the day to help prevent the risk of Covid-19 infection. Festival hours are reduced this year to accommodate the disinfecting procedures, noon until 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon until 6 on Sundays, and 4-8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.
“In an effort to limit surface contact, we are happy to announce that all of our items – Christmas trees, of course, and wreaths, decorative bowling pins, gift packages and more – will be biddable online,” Grubb said. “If you come, you will see that we have utilized technology for using your phone to place bids.” She explained that each item will have a QR code that visitors can scan with a smartphone, connecting them directly to that item on the FOTT website where they can place their bid. There will also be volunteers with tablets to take bids.
“The online system will also notify users if they have been outbid on an item, much as the system eBay uses,” she noted, “and it will notify you if you win the bid.”
“The committee is doing all we can to protect visitors. There will be an altered path to accommodate safety and social distancing,” Grubb said, “and the strictly laid-out path must be followed to protect yourself and others.”
For those who choose not to attend in person, the FOTT committee is, for the first time, offering a virtual tour of the event. The virtual tour will be available only on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday. For information on how to log in to the virtual tour, go to the website at www.PACFOTT.org.
“Also new this year in the Candy Cane Café is a bake shop, with many delectable baked goods donated by several local bakeries,” she said.
And what is Christmas without Santa? Jolly old Saint Nick will be available on the stage each Saturday from noon until 3 p.m. To protect Santa Claus for his important journey on Christmas Eve, children will be socially distanced, but will still be able to talk to him and parents can snap a photo. As always, masks will be required. A bonus this year is that children 12 and under are admitted free with a paying adult.
“During this year when so many events have been canceled, we are proud to be able to offer this enduring tradition in our community,” Grubb said. “We hope everyone will come out to see the hard work our decorators have put into their creations. And we want to issue a big thank you to our sponsors who support the Festival of Trees and Trains, and the community for allowing us to continue this beloved event.”