The St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation expects the seventh annual Festival of Trees will be the biggest edition of the fundraiser yet.
The festival will take place from Nov. 15-17 inside Affinity Place and other parts of the Estevan Leisure Centre. Executive director Breanne Van de Woestyne said the hospital wanted to stick with some of the long-standing attractions at the event, while bringing something new to the table.
The festival will kick off on Nov. 15 with The Ultimate Family Movie Night: a Night in Whoville, presented by Chamney Crushing, starting at 7 p.m. It will be open for families to come in and watch 2003 version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas on a big screen at the multipurpose room, and enjoy Whoville-themed food and non-alcoholic beverages in the Affinity Place foyer.
“We wanted to have something that really involved families to kick off the festival, as that’s what our focus is this year is to have more family involvement,” said Van de Woestyne.
The second day will open with a revamped seniors’ tea. It has traditionally been held on the first day, but it has been pushed back a day, and has been renamed A Christmas Tea Party. Seniors will be welcome to attend, but their families are invited as well.
“The whole family can come out for tea and take in the trees and have a nice morning out, taking something in a little bit different and taking in the Christmas spirit,” Van de Woestyne said.
The foundation has also partnered with the Estevan Kinettes Club for their annual Christmas craft sale, which is now known as the Estevan Kinettes Christmas Marketplace.
“That is a really exciting partnership for us, because we have support year after year from the Kinettes and just to team up with them for such a huge Christmas sale is exciting,” said Van de Woestyne.
The sale will happen at the Wylie-Mitchell Building and the Estevan Exhibition building at 10 a.m. that day.
Van de Woestyne noted the Kinettes purchased the naming rights for the hospital’s maternity ward through the foundation’s revitalization campaign.
Despite the name change, the craft show will be the same as in previous years.
The annual gala supper will happen that evening. Van de Woestyne said it’s a big part of the festival, as it brings together partners and community members for a nice kickoff to Christmas. The theme will be I’ll be Home for Christmas.
“We really wanted to feature our community and just have the nostalgic atmosphere to what Christmas really is,” she said.
Entertainment will be provided by southeast Saskatchewan acts the Johner Brothers and Brad Johner and the Johner Boys.
Also at the gala will be live and silent auctions. A photo booth will be there, and a live caricature artist will be present for the first time.
“He will be set up throughout the gala to draw some of our guests, and it’s a digital screen, actually, so all of our guests can watch their friends or family get drawn.”
The festival will wrap up on Nov. 17 with Santa’s Breakfast with the Bruins, sponsored by Estevan Mercury Publications. It’s become a huge tradition, she said, and the foundation wants to keep it going.
Families can enjoy games and activities throughout the morning. A pancake breakfast will be served. Santa Claus will take children’s wish lists, and members of the Estevan Bruins will also be present.
New for this year will be Christmas Lane, sponsored by Kingston Midstream, in the Affinity concourse, starting at 9:30 a.m. Families can enjoy Santa’s workshop with Christmas crafts, a raffle, a library, local celebrities reading Christmas stories, and a free book for the first 125 children.
The money raised from the Festival of Trees will be directed towards the hospital to purchase new equipment and continue to recruit physicians and staff.
“Every single day there is something that we need to improve or to buy something new with the advancing of technology, so we constantly have a need to continue to fund our hospital so that we can not only provide the services that we do, but also provide new services when the time comes.”
The Festival of Trees is also a great way to build awareness of the foundation, and Van de Woestyne is looking forward to offering something that attracts people from all demographics in the community and gets people excited for the Christmas season.