Annual Hayden Christmas Tree Festival takes place Sunday

If you go

What: Hayden Christmas Tree Festival

When: 1 p.m. Sunday

Where: Routt County Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall

Call: Lori Laird at 846-0782 for more information

— Organizations such as Love INC depend on fundraisers like this Sunday’s Hayden Christmas Tree Festival.

Love INC is a Christian clearinghouse in Craig that connects members of the community with churches, health services and human service organizations in the Yampa Valley. Sunday’s event will help Love INC do more than raise money.

“It is an opportunity for us to approach members of the community who have never heard about Love INC before,” Executive Director Patricia Jones said. “It’s wonderful to share what Love INC is about. If people are interested in helping out or making donations, we’ve given them an extra opportunity to get involved in their community.”

The event, at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Routt County Fairgrounds’ Exhibit Hall, allows local organizations to auction decorated Christmas trees, wreaths and centerpieces. All proceeds go directly back to the organization.

The Hayden Christmas Tree Festival is in its third year and is hosted by The Friends of the Christmas Tree Festival. Last year’s event raised nearly $5,100 for 24 local organizations.

The group took over running the annual fundraiser in 2007 from the Hayden Museum Board, which started the event nearly 20 years before, said Lori Laird, a member of the Friends of the Christmas Tree Festival group.

“It’s a fundraising event for nonprofit groups in the valley, all the way from Soroco to Craig,” she said. “It’s just too good of a fundraising event to let it die when the museum board decided not to do it anymore.”

Laird said several organizations have signed up to sell as many as two Christmas trees, wreaths or centerpieces at the festival.

They include: Hayden Girl Scouts, Daisy Troop 215, Brownie Troop 217, Junior Troop 218, Cadette Troop 214; Craig Girl Scout Troop 202; Ranch House 4-H; Love INC; Routt County CattleWomen’s Association; Hayden Valley Elementary School’s Winter Gift Festival and H.A.T.S groups; Hayden High School’s After Prom, Knowledge Bowl and National Honor Society groups; Act One Productions; and Soroco National FFA Organization.

And there’s still time to sign up.

Kristin Hockaday, a leader with Ranch House 4-H in Hayden, said with the exception of dues, fundraisers are the only way the organization can raise money. She said proceeds from the sale of their tree, decorated in John Deere colors, would be used to pay for a fun activity for the 25 5- to 15-year-olds in Ranch House 4-H.

Love INC will sell two Christmas trees this year, Jones said. She said the themes are Colorado Christmas and candy.

Jones said Love INC relies on fundraisers such as the Hayden Christmas Tree Festival to raise money for operations, in addition to raising awareness about the group. Love INC would like to increase this year’s budget of $47,000 to $63,000 next year, she said. Jones said a higher budget would allow the organization — which operates with two part-time employees, including herself — to expand its hours. She hopes between the sale of its two trees, Love INC can raise about $400.

“We try to meet a lot of needs with the least amount of money we can,” she said.

Groups can drop off and decorate their trees, wreaths and centerpieces from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Exhibit Hall. The Hayden Christmas Tree Festival opens for viewing at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, and the auction begins at 1 p.m. Coffee and cookies will be provided.

For more information, call Laird at 846-0782.

— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 871-4203 or e-mail jweinstein@steamboatpilot.com

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