Festival of Trees returns with generosity of community in full force

  • Joni Wallace, 5, drops a ticket into Relay For Life’s bucket at the 2021 Festival of Trees at Aromatic Fillers in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Deerfield resident Piper Pichette played soft harp music for the soundtrack of the Festival of Trees at Aromatic Fillers in South Deerfield, Saturday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • The tree donated by the Clarke family of Greenfield at the 2021 Festival of Trees at Aromatic Fillers in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • The 2021 Festival of Trees will be open each Friday and Saturday at Aromatic Fillers in South Deerfield through Dec. 11. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • The 2021 Festival of Trees will be open each Friday and Saturday at Aromatic Fillers in South Deerfield through Dec. 11. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer
Published: 11/28/2021 5:06:42 PM
Modified: 11/28/2021 5:06:14 PM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — The grove of Christmas trees from the fifth annual Festival of Trees has sprung up in its new location of the Aromatic Fillers showroom.

After a pandemic-induced pause, the Festival of Trees kicked off at its new location — it was held in the now-closed Wilson’s Department Store and at Yankee Candle in previous years — over the weekend and will continue on Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 11.

Attendees are able to buy raffle tickets to win prizes from the more than 60 sponsored trees in the showroom. All proceeds will then be given to local organizations through a grant process.

“We’re so excited to be back. … We’re so happy,” said organizer April Healey. “(Aromatic Fillers CEO) Todd (Green) generously donated the space. This is lovely.”

Each day of the event, which is co-sponsored by the Franklin County Rotary Club and Greenfield Kiwanis Club, will also have live entertainment for people to enjoy while choosing what buckets to put their tickets in. Friday night featured performances by area dance schools while on Saturday, Deerfield resident Piper Pichette played soft music on her harp.

Healey said the event is a symbol of community throughout the region as dozens of local businesses and people came together to offer prizes and gift cards to raise money for various service organizations.

“The generosity in this community is overwhelming,” Healey said. “This is families, businesses and individuals. It’s an enclave of people that come together. We’re so grateful.”

She added that the fundraiser provided grants to 11 organizations after raising $22,000 in the 2019 festival. She highlighted Community Action Pioneer Valley and The Arts Block as two organizations supported in the past.

“It gives life to some programs that might not otherwise come to fruition. … It’s really great we’re able to breathe some life into these programs,” she said. “It’s amazing and that’s why we do it.”

This year, the goal is to raise $30,000.

Folks streamed in and out of Aromatic Fillers Saturday afternoon to take their chances at winning trees with prizes ranging from gift cards to local businesses like Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters, a 40-inch television, bottles of liquor and even an antique eight-day clock, which was donated by the Clarke family of Greenfield.

The Clarke family does a themed tree every year with ideas in the past like birds, trains, and Doug Clarke’s favorite, a tree based on the critically acclaimed movie series “The Godfather.”

“We’re just a family that has done it every year from the first one,” Clarke said. “It’s kind of a family challenge, the kids come up with the ideas.”

Clarke, who is a member of the Greenfield Kiwanis Club, said he was surprised at how big of an event it was when it first started.

“We felt like we really wanted to support it in its first year,” Clarke said. “I was a bit skeptical it would be that big of a hit.”

Amy Clarke, Doug’s wife, said she hopes more families will join the event in the future because it’s enjoyable for the family to come up with an idea and it’s all for a good cause.

“We encourage other families to do it,” Amy Clarke said. “It’s really fun.”

Bernardston resident Kathy Willor said it was her first time ever going to the festival. She and her niece stopped by after doing some holiday shopping.

“We heard about this beautiful place,” Willor said. “It’s a very nice holiday event.”

Willor said she hopes others will feel the holiday cheer she was experiencing, especially after the difficulty of last year’s holiday season.

“This place right here is going to bring the holiday spirit,” Willor said. “The last couple years have been so hard with COVID.”

Greenfield resident Leslie Zraunig said the event is a chance to get out and celebrate the holidays more than people could last year.

“It’s nice to have everything back,” Zraunig said. “I look forward to this. … It’s great.”

The Festival of Trees can be found at Aromatic Fillers at 253 Greenfield Road in South Deerfield each Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. through Dec. 11. The festival will end on Sunday, Dec. 12, when the winner of each tree will be contacted to schedule a time to pick up their prizes.

Grant applications for organizations will be open Dec. 1. Organizations interested can contact Healey at FestivalofTrees2021@gmail.com.

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.

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