Since its inception three years ago, Detroit Lakes' Festival of Trees has been a steadily growing post-Thanksgiving holiday tradition.
The third annual event, set to take place this Saturday, Nov. 24, will feature a total of 14 trees - up from 12 last year, and 9 the year before - all sponsored and decorated by local businesses.
Each tree has a theme, many of which are quite unique and unusual.
"The trees are just phenomenal," says Skye Fingalson, the founder of the annual fundraiser for the Lakes Crisis & Resource Center. "People are getting really competitive and creative with them."
For example, Active Nutrition's tree is humorously titled "Who Let the Elves Out?" while Seven Sisters Spirits' entry is called "Tipsy Tito's Tinsel Tree." Of course, many of the trees also have a more spiritual theme, such as the Essentia Health St. Mary's entry, "Joy to the World," and Paul Davis Restoration's "Angels are Above Us."
Other 2018 tree sponsors include The Real Estate Company, Midwest Bank, Hometown Crafts, At Ease Dock & Lift, 180 Balance, Do-Right Construction, Hub 41/Brygge Taps & Tastes, Lakeridge Dental, Beautiful Junque and Paymasters.
The trees will all be set up in the Historic Holmes Theatre Ballroom (826 Summit Ave., Detroit Lakes), and people can come in and begin viewing the holiday splendor starting at 5 p.m.
Besides the live tree auction, which will feature auctioneer Jerome Tappe, this year's festival also includes a dinner catered by La Barista, live music from Danny Holt, games and door prizes, with all proceeds to benefit the Lakes Crisis & Resource Center.
Tickets are $40 each, and are available at Midwest Bank, Seven Sisters Spirits, 180 Balance, Active Nutrition, Essentia Health and Beautiful Junque in Detroit Lakes as well as the Lakes Crisis & Resource Center.
"All tickets must be purchased in advance," Fingalson said, noting that they need to have an accurate headcount for the dinner, as the meals are being catered by an off-site business - La Barista.
When Detroit Lakes' first-ever Festival of Trees was held at the Holiday Inn in 2016, it was a dream come true for Fingalson, who had attended a similar event in her hometown of Valley City, N.D., several times, and wanted to bring a Christmas tree festival to the community that she now calls home.
"I'm really passionate about it," she says. "Last year's festival was once again a huge success. We were able to give over $21,000 to the Lakes Crisis & Resource Center."
As the name of the fundraiser implies, the main event of the evening is the live tree auction.
"You don't have to come with the intent to buy a tree," says Fingalson, "but if you need a new Christmas tree for your home or business, this would be an excellent way to not only donate to a good cause, but to walk away with a fully-decorated tree for the holidays."
Even those guests who do not purchase a tree are welcome to vote for their favorites, she added; a People's Choice Award will be given to the top vote-getter.
In addition to the live auction, and the door prizes, there will also be a few games of chance for attendees to try their hand at bringing home some special gifts.
"We will have a silent auction for a shopping spree at Mainstream Boutique, and a drawing for a 'booze wagon' - a little red wagon filled up with all different kinds of beer, wine, liquor and chocolates that's valued at over $500," said Fingalson, adding that tickets for the booze wagon drawing will be sold separately.