DENTON — Clayton Farms produce stand on Shore Highway has transformed one of its greenhouses into a holiday fiesta. There are elves with red conical hats, bears, angels and snow flakes hanging from the 10 trees all in neat rows. It is a miracle of commerce and holiday spirit.

Each tree is unique and has holiday theme. There are candy canes and nutcracker soldiers. Snowmen and glittering pine cones dazzle the eye.

Eileen Simmons, the wife of the owner, is the mastermind behind this extravaganza. On top of the holiday presentation, this is a working farm. Customers can still buy turnips, purple cabbage, cauliflower and greens.

“We have been here for 45 years. Four years ago I took over the market to help the family take it to the next generation. So we converted our greenhouse into a Christmas house for the holidays. All the generations still work here. My mother-in-law is still in the field, still picking. We have a little over 300 acres, and we are seasonal. Anyone who farms knows it is hard work,” Simmons said.

For now, all the decorations are hung on artificial trees, but that is going to change.

“We are going to bring in live wreaths next week, Christmas trees and my handmade bows. We had to shut down for two days because I wanted this to be something special. Mr. and Mrs. Claus come Dec. 5th from 12 to 4 p.m. You can get your picture taken with them. It is a lot of fun,” she said.

She has a helper, Teresa Goss.

“I am decorating, merchandising and putting things together so people can walk around,” Goss said. “The garden tree is my favorite because I am a gardener. It has got rubber boots, beehive, little glass atriums, little glass jars of herbs and bees. After Thanksgiving, she has 50 Douglas fir trees coming.”

She had a second favorite tree called under the sea.

“We have mermaids, starfish, anchors and crabs. And it has a seashell garland. I am not the purchaser, that would be Eileen. I am the merchandiser. We have little pre-lit trees for sale,” she said.

Strolling through all of this merriment, Goss stopped at the Bethlehem tree.

“We have the baby Jesus and the manger. This the real deal Christmas tree. We have a sweet tree. That is covered in squishy Nutella and toast, it has s’mores and sugar cookies, donuts and ice cream cones and gingerbread men with utensils — all sorts of stuff,” Goss said.

“I think we have something for everybody. We try to cater to everybody. Next week we will have trees, wreaths, garlands, roping, ” Simmons added.

To find all of these items, she travels to a trade show in Atlanta in January. She spends five days down there hunting, shopping for 10 hours straight.

“Up and down, up and down. Shopping, shopping, going back and forth looking for quality. I order for all the seasons. Fall, winter, Easter. There is a July show too, but I can’t go because I am picking corn. This year has been tough with freight and getting what I want. We only got 60% of what I wanted. So this is 60%,” Simmons said.

It does not look half full at all. At 100%, it would have gone up to the ceiling and out the front door. Simmons said they have a purchase point that they are working toward.

“Around 40 bucks. It is a great place to take your kid if they need an ornament for a teacher gift. It is nice if you do a gift exchange at work. We have things from $1.99 to $50. When I go to the shows I kind of feel what to buy. You can’t buy for yourself and you have to scale it down or it can be a bit messy. Go with an open mind and then scale it down,” she said.

“She is very good at making broad choices for people,” Goss said.

Simmons says she should be good at it. She has been doing it since she was 7.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.