By Tim Gardner
North Carolina State Senator Deanna Ballard, who represents North Carolina’s 45th District, comprised of Alleghany, Ashe, Surry, Watauga and Wilkes Counties, was recently recognized for her ongoing support of the Christmas Tree Industry.
Senator Ballard received the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association’s Outstanding Public Official Award at its 2019 Winter Meeting in February.
The North Carolina Christmas Tree Association is headquartered in Boone.
Harry Yates, spokesperson for the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association, commented about Senator Ballard: “The North Carolina Christmas Tree Association (NCCTA) values and appreciates Senator Ballard’s attentiveness to our industry’s needs, as well as her participation in our semi-annual meetings and farm visits. She has also participated in special events including Trees for Troops and the White House Tree selection and presentation. She has been very supportive to our industry’s concerns and we recognize her efforts in assisting the Christmas Tree Industry and Agriculture.”
Senator Ballard, a Blowing Rock resident, launched her political career as a volunteer for George W. Bush’s Presidential Advance Team and quickly worked her way up to become a special assistant to the President and director of scheduling and advance for First Lady Laura Bush. She is the daughter of a school teacher and a logger and she learned the value of hard work from her parents. Senator Ballard currently serves on several NC State legislative committees including Appropriations on Education/Higher Education, Education/Higher Education, State and Local Government and Transportation.
The mission of the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association (NCCTA) is to promote “real” Christmas Trees through marketing and education. The NCCTA contributes to the success of the Christmas Tree Industry by providing ethical, professional and visionary leadership.
The first Christmas tree marketplace was created in 1851 in New York City, however it took North Carolina until 1955 to begin growing Fraser Fir seedlings specifically for harvesting. In 1959, five Avery County growers created the NCCTA.
In 1964, North Carolina reached the milestone achievement of selling one million Christmas trees with a price that averaged $1 dollar per foot. By 1979, 1.4 million trees were harvested in the state. Then in 1988, the North Carolina Christmas Tree industry was valued at $55 million dollars.
In 1971, the Fraser Fir was selected for the first time to be the White House Christmas tree. Since then a North Carolina Fraser fir has been selected twelve more times to be showcased in the White House.
The North Carolina Christmas Tree Industry currently ranks second in the nation in number of trees harvested and cash receipts. Tree growers from the state harvest approximately 4.3 million trees annually. Total sales from those trees are in excess of $85 million, not even including sales of value-added products such as wreaths, roping, swags and table and mailbox decorations.