Final preparations being made for Festival of Trees

The St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation is making its final preparations for the upcoming Festival of Trees.

The seventh annual fundraiser will take place from Nov. 15-17 at Affinity Place and other sites in central Estevan.

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“Plans are coming along very nicely,” said Breanne Van De Woestyne, the foundation’s executive director. “Everything’s coming together, and we’re really just excited to have our annual event, but also have so many new additions this year, so it’s going to be a really good weekend and we’re looking forward to it.”

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 the 2003 version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas on a big screen at the multipurpose room, and enjoy Whoville-themed food and beverages in the Affinity Place foyer.

“We’re looking forward to that, just having something fun and festive,” said Van De Woestyne.

Ticket sales are picking up quickly for the Whoville party, and she expects them to sell out.

The second day will open with a revamped seniors tea at 9:30 a.m. The tea has been moved from a Friday afternoon to a Saturday morning, and will be open to families as well.

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. The sale will happen at the Wylie-Mitchell Building and the Estevan Exhibition building at 10 a.m. that day.

The annual gala supper will happen that evening at Affinity Place. This year’s theme is I’ll be Home for Christmas. Entertainment will be provided by southeast Saskatchewan musical acts the Johner Brothers and Brad Johner and the Johner Boys.

The banquet is sold out, with all 80 tables purchased. Van De Woestyne said it will be the biggest crowd for the gala in the history of the festival. 

“It’s going to be a fun night. There’s so much to do, and it’s just going to be a really nice way to celebrate not only Christmas but celebrate local healthcare.”

A variety of trips will be available in a live auction, as will a couple of local experiences: a date night for every month of the year and a summer staycation package. Also available will be a handmade rocking horse donated by Dennis Gonas.

“It’s a showstopper for people to see his talent,” said Van De Woestyne.

A live caricature artist will be present for the first time. The Christmas trees will be sold during the evening as well.

The festival will wrap up on Nov. 17 with Santa’s Breakfast with the Bruins, sponsored by Estevan Mercury Publications. It’s become a popular tradition, she said.

“We’re going to have more games to play this year. We’re constantly adding things.”

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.

A new attraction 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.

Volunteers are still needed for the Christmas Lane, and people can sign up on the website.

Also new is Frosty’s Christmas Forest, presented by Signal Direct, in which members of the public are encouraged to decorate a Christmas tree, which will be at the front entrance to Affinity Place.

The Festival of Trees is not only the biggest fundraiser of the year for the foundation, but it also helps to build awareness.

“This type of event doesn’t target just one certain audience, it targets the entire community,” said Van De Woestyne. “It’s basically just such a fun way to get people out, people involved, and give something for them to do on the weekend, but it also has that area where we can promote ourselves. We can show people what we do with the community dollars that we receive throughout the year.”

Funds raised will be used to purchase medical equipment and recruit new physicians to Estevan.

And it’s a great way to have as a community while supporting a great cause.

© Copyright Estevan Mercury

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