The Festival of Trees fundraising event for the Western Youth Network, held November 30-December 3 at the Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock, was a huge success, and will have a large impact on youth in need in the High Country. This was the third year for the event. “We’re still finalizing numbers, but we’ve tipped $30,000 in funds this year,” said Jenny Koehn, chair of the Festival planning committee.
Over 75 trees and wreaths were displayed and auctioned off to festival attendees. The trees and wreaths were decorated by local businesses and individuals, and packaged with gift certificates, merchandise and treats. Several attendees took advantage of the “Buy it Now” option, paying top dollar to ensure they’d get to take a particular item home. Others enjoyed the auction process, with many people waiting until the last few minutes of the auction to make their final bid.
All of the event attendees appreciated the creativity of the Designers, with each tree displaying unique themes. With tree designs including categories such as books, coffee, photography, golf, baking, art, travel, and toys, there was truly something for everyone. “We couldn’t have done this without our wonderful sponsors and designers,” said Julia Roberts, Director of Development and Operations at WYN. “All of the trees are donated by the Watauga County Christmas Tree Association. And Chetola Resort has been an amazing partner every year, providing the venue for the event and helping out with so many details.”
Proceeds benefit the Western Youth Network, an organization that builds the character and confidence of youth in a five county area of the High Country. WYN seeks to create a community in which every child, regardless of circumstance, can thrive. Their initiatives include a Mentoring program, After School tutoring and care, Prevention programs, and Summer Day Camps.
Dozens of people volunteered to help out at the festival, welcoming guests and guiding them through the auction process. After the auction was over, volunteers wrapped the trees for transport and assisted the lucky winners in packing up the goodies under the trees. “Some of our volunteers participate each year, and we had a number of new people helping out this year. A.S.U. students, board members for WYN, and just caring people in our community volunteered. We also had a good number of repeat Event Sponsors and Designers, as well as many new ones,” said Koehn.
“We find that the event participants become advocates of WYN, and that has a long range impact as we generate invested awareness among businesses and individuals in the area. So the impact and support outlasts the event itself,” Koehn added.