An easel ornament displaying artwork by kids from the Cherish the Little Things art show hangs on the Connections 4 Kids Christmas tree at the Festival of Trees. Connections 4 Kid’s tree won out of 23 trees and was awarded $500 to use towards its programs.

Photo by Mary Austin

An easel ornament displaying artwork by kids from the Cherish the Little Things art show hangs on the Connections 4 Kids Christmas tree at the Festival of Trees. Connections 4 Kid’s tree won out of 23 trees and was awarded $500 to use towards its programs.

Festival of Trees winners named

Despite declaring a Festival of Trees winner, judges said the decision was so difficult they added four trees as honorable mentions.

“It was hard for judges to decide, there were so many great trees,” said Corrie Ponikvar, executive director for Moffat County United Way.

The festival, sponsored by Moffat County Youth United Way and Key Club, features Christmas trees decorated by local non-profit groups. The agency whose tree is voted the best would score a $500 prize to use for its programs.

The tree from Connections 4 Kids, "Cherish the Little Things," took first place.

“I’m shocked," said Michelle Balleck, coordinator for Connections 4 Kids. "So many of the non-profits submitted beautiful trees and I’m just honored they chose ours."

Featuring miniature easels displaying art of children entered in the Cherish the Little Things art show as ornaments, Balleck said the tree represented the organization well.

“It’s really fun to showcase the kids art and it’s a fun way to do that," she said. "It’s a chance to focus on the kids and what they’ve produced and share it with the community in another forum."

Although she said she’s not positive where the $500 will be spent just yet, Balleck said it’s likely the money will go to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library as it desperately needs funds because of an overwhelming response in enrollment.

Balleck said she set up a little craft shop in her house the past week creating the ornaments.

Honorable mention trees included Moffat County Libraries tree, "The Gift of Reading"; Craig Senior Citizens tree, "The Golden Years"; the Humane Society of Moffat County tree, "I’ll Be Home for Christmas"; and the Northwest Colorado Chapter of Parrotheads tree, "Mele Kalikimaka Tree".

The winners were announced during the first Thursday night community event for the Festival of Trees at the Moffat County Courthouse.

Featuring live entertainment, Mrs. Claus, cookies and cocoa, visitors meandered through the halls looking at the 23 Christmas trees decorated by local non-profit groups.

Ornaments are still for sale to benefit the Moffat County Youth United Way.

Balleck said her organization donated an extra ornament of each child’s artwork to be sold, and was told before the event even began that about half of them had been sold.

“We have a lot of supporters in the courthouse,” Balleck said.

Darian Warden can be reached at 875-1793 or dwarden@craigdailypress.com

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