By Nathan Ham
For the third time, Ashe County tree farmers Rusty and Beau Estes will be providing the Christmas Tree that will be displayed in The Blue Room of the White House this year.
The 18.5-foot-tall Fraser fir tree was chosen by White House Grounds Superintendent Dale Haney on Wednesday morning at Peak Farms, owned by the Estes family. Rusty and his son Beau provided the Christmas tree for President George W. Bush in 2008 and President Barack Obama in 2012. Peak Farms also supplied the tree for Vice President Mike Pence in 2018.
This is the 56th year that the National Christmas Tree Association has presented the official White House Christmas tree. Each year, growers enter a contest where growers, experts and consumers vote on who will provide the official tree.
Rusty and Beau advanced through the competition by competing among other North Carolina Christmas tree growers. In August, they competed in the national contest with growers from all across the country and they were chosen as Grand Champion.
“North Carolina is very proud to be a 14-time champion of the National Christmas Tree Association Contest. That honor is credited to our hard-working and dedicated Christmas Tree growers,” said Jennifer Greene, the Executive Director of the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association. “North Carolina harvests approximately four million Christmas trees annually, producing over 26% of the Christmas trees in the United States.”
Rusty has been a part of the Christmas tree industry since 1979 when he started off with just 200 trees and a small retail lot in Lenoir, all as part of a side job in addition to his main work as a golf course superintendent in Avery County. Rusty and his wife, Ann, and two children, Beau and Katirie, moved to Ashe County in the mid-90s and started Peak Farms. Beau graduated from North Carolina State University in 2002 and moved back to Ashe County in 2003 to begin working full-time in the Christmas tree industry with his dad.
“This is such a special occasion for the Estes family. We are blessed to get to do what we do and we are proud to represent Ashe County, North Carolina and the rest of the country in presenting the tree this year to the First Lady,” Rusty said.