2022 Festival of Trees Gala set for Nov. 16

The 36th annual Festival of Trees and Online Auction, themed as “Walking in a Winter Wonderland,” kicks off Nov. 16.
 Festival of Trees, hosted by Weiser Memorial Hospital Foundation and presented by Ridley’s Family Markets, usually takes place the first week of December, but was changed to November this year to better serve those winning the beautifully decorated, themed trees.
 “Our tree buyers have been asking to get their trees    earlier and earlier,” explained Kimberly Burgess, WMHF Executive Director and Chairman for the event. “A lot of buyers have been saying that it would be nice to have them around the holidays, on Thanksgiving, because many people decorate around that time. So, instead of getting their trees the first Sunday in December, they will receive them in November.”
 The Gala Dinner and Live Auction is set for Wednesday, Nov. 16 from 5:30 to 10 p.m. at the Vendome Events Center in Weiser. 
 The online auction runs from Nov. 16-27, with everything from gift baskets and dinner packages to hand-crafted items and vacation packages available to bidders.
 Tickets for the Gala are $60 each and can be purchased at www.weiserfestivaloftrees.afrogs.org. Ticket sales end on Monday, Nov. 7 at 8 a.m. and as of today there are 38 tickets available for the Gala. The night of the Gala will also feature two separate raffles. 
 One is for a 1.5 carat diamond bracelet donated by the Diamond Gallery in Ontario, Ore. that will be worn by Miss Idaho, Sarah Jensen, a Weiser native and middle school teacher. There will be 100 tickets available at $35 each, giving participants a reasonable 1 in 100 chance of winning the bracelet valued at approximately $2,500.
 The second raffle has been dubbed “Sweet Escape,” which includes a two-night stay at the historic Hotel McCall. It comes with a catered dinner from Incahoots BBQ & Catering out of Cambridge, Idaho, plus wine and a chocolate basket from Weiser Classic Candy, in addition to an ornately hand-decorated sugar cookie from Bake-A-Deli in Ontario. Tickets are $20 each.
 A Community Open House is scheduled for Nov. 18 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and will provide kids the opportunity to visit with Santa from 5-8 p.m. Get more details about the event by visiting the webpage provided above.
 The Festival of Trees is the largest fundraising event of the year for WMH Foundation, generating $600,000 over its 36-year history for grants and requests for hospital equipment and facilities, which in turn benefits the community at large.
 “Examples of things that have been funded in the past include equipment for the Outdoor Community Gym, educational supplies for clinical staff, and equipment for the Family Medical Center and hospital staff,” Burgess said. “It just depends on what our staff is requesting and what types of projects or grants that are being asked of the foundation.”
 Last year’s event raised just over $70,000. Burgess says the foundation is hoping to raise around $80,000 this year.
 “So far we have had a really robust sponsorship procurement campaign and have been able to raise $29,800,” said Burgess who said the pre-event goal was $20,000. About 33 businesses and individuals in the community have stepped up in grand fashion.
 Of course, the annual festival is centered around beautifully decorated, themed Christmas trees that are auctioned off at hundreds of dollars apiece during the Gala and Live Auction. This year, there are a total of 23 trees.
 Auction winners will receive their trees on Saturday, Nov. 19.
 “Everything we are doing with Festival of Trees seems to be just a little bit more this year,” Burgess said. “We have more tickets sold, we have more sponsors, more volunteers, more auction items, more marketing and a bit more polish.”
 Burgess said this year’s theme was inspired by her childhood growing up in Vermont.
 “When I was brainstorming for themes this year, I chose something that was near and dear to my heart,” she said. “Vermont is quite a magical place – lots of snow, lots of beauty, so I wanted to do something with sparkle and give people a magical holiday kickoff.”
 Burgess said that volunteers are critical to the event’s success.
 “We have a volunteer committee of 23 people this year,” she said. “We have a great list of volunteers, and we are very, very lucky to have such an outstanding group.”


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