Festival of Trees tickets on sale Monday, Oct. 2 at 9 a.m.

The Festival of Trees is the biggest fundraiser of the year for Weiser Memorial Hospital Foundation. It is also the unofficial start to the holiday season in Washington County. Photo by Philip A. Janquart
Philip A. Janquart
Tickets for the 37th annual Festival of Trees Gala go on sale Monday, Oct. 2 at 9 a.m.
 Purchases can be made by visiting 2023weiserfestivaloftrees.afrogs.org or you can use a mobile device to scan the QR code associated with this article. (Using your photo app, just hover your phone over the code and tap the screen. You will be taken to the website.)
 “Our website is live, so people can go there now and view information about the event, but they cannot actually purchase tickets until 9 a.m., on Oct. 2,” explained WMH Foundation Executive Director and Festival of Trees Chair, Kimberly Burgess.
 The online auction runs from Nov. 16 to Nov. 26. You can see the items up for bid by visiting the website above, beginning Nov. 16 at 5 p.m.
 Also on tap is the Open House and Christmas Store scheduled for Friday, Nov. 17 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Santa himself visiting with area children from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. The annual Sip ‘n Paint event begins at 6 p.m. Come have some wine while learning to paint a magical Christmas scene on canvas. Tickets are required and can be purchased on the website.
 The Gala takes place one day earlier, on Thursday, Nov. 16 from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Vendome Events Center located at 309 State St. in downtown Weiser. It features a catered dinner and beverages, a cash bar, silent auction, and, of course, the Christmas Tree live auction.
 The WMHF typically auctions off between 18 and 23 trees, all of them decorated with specific themes in mind. 
 Some of them have gone for thousands of dollars, individuals sometimes returning the tree back to auction to be bid on a second time. It’s an event that raises money for a worthy cause and brings the community together during a special time of year.
 “That’s an understatement,” Burgess responded when asked if tickets go fast.
 “They really do, it’s crazy,” she said. “I think last year, we sold out in under two weeks. It’s because we have a community that is invested in supporting our hospital. The Festival of Trees is quite literally the kick-off for the holiday season in Washington County.”
 Those who miss the ticket purchase deadline can be added to a wait list.
 “People are very kind in letting us know if they can’t make it, so we are able to accommodate many of those on the waiting list,” Burgess said.
 This year’s theme is “Home for the Holidays,” which is meant to evoke a feeling of arrival, leaving behind the hustle and bustle of daily life, returning home where things are a bit less chaotic.
 “We wanted to focus on simpler things, the pleasure of being home and being around family, friends, and loved ones,” Burgess explained. 
 “Just that cozy, homey feeling you get during the holiday season where you get a cup of hot cocoa and sit by the fire. We are so busy in life, it’s nice to just unplug and go back to something simple.”
Festival of Trees
 The decades-long event is Weiser Memorial Hospital Foundation’s biggest fundraiser of the year, raising money for grant requests from hospital departments looking for means to improve services and programs for patients and the community as a whole.
 Past grants have been awarded to projects like the Weiser Outdoor Community Gym. Located on the southwest corner of Liberty and E. Fourth streets, the free, weather-withstanding outdoor gym provides anyone in the community an opportunity to get a workout in at no cost. It was the brainchild of WMH Community Relations Manager, Kasey Davis. 
 Grants have also funded bassinets for WMH Labor and Delivery, an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) for the hospital’s education department, and, more recently, surgical orthopedic equipment for new orthopedic surgeon, Matthew Elliot, who arrived in Weiser from Washington state on Aug. 1.
 “We have departments that reach out to us throughout the year and tell us they would like a specific type of equipment or training, or to revamp or buy something new for their department,” Burgess said. “They come and present to the foundation board and then the directors vote on, and approve, what grant requests they would like to fund.”
 Last year, the Festival of Trees raised $87,000 that is used to fulfill as many of those grant requests as possible. The goal this year, according to Burgess, is to raise $92,000. Nearly $700,000 has been raised over the decades since the fundraiser’s launch.
 Ridley’s Family Markets is the Gala’s presenting sponsor.
 Burgess added that the foundation, however, is still seeking additional event sponsors and volunteers, and auction items are needed. 
 There are 20 people who make up the planning committee, which comprises a mix of community members and hospital staff, that begins work on the event about a year in advance.
 “It ranges from sponsorship sales to marketing, entertainment coordination to silent auction procurement,” Burgess said. “There is literally a chair position for every function within the Festival of Trees.”
 Each committee chair needs volunteers to help accomplish specific planning goals.
 “Weiser has a great multitude of people that are so gifted and creative,” Burgess said. “People just really like to roll up their sleeves and invest in something that gives directly back to the community.”
 Please visit 2023weiserfestivaloftrees.afrogs.org to make a donation or call (208) 549-4412 for information on volunteer opportunities.


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Weiser, ID 83672
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