EASTON — It’s a ballroom full of glittering, beautifully decorated trees, but the 34th annual Festival of Trees is so much more.
The festival is the main fundraiser for Talbot Hospice, the organization that provides hope, compassionate support and services to all members of the community facing end-of-life issues. Friends of Talbot Hospice sponsors and organizes the Festival of Trees.
For many, the festival is the first blast of the Christmas season, with the sound of live seasonal music, the smell of pine and oranges, the spirit of giving and the thought of wishes coming true.
Seventy-three holiday trees, ranging in sizes from 18 inches to 10 feet form a forest wonderland in the historic Tidewater Inn’s Gold Ballroom.
At the center of the ballroom is a large tree made entirely of red poinsettias, given in honor of loved ones. More than 130 potted plants form the tree.
A large Hospice Memorial Tree is covered with white doves and dominates one corner of the ballroom. It bears the names of more than 200 people who died this year. The tree was sponsored by Anne-Lise Fink and was decorated by the Talbot Hospice staff.
Other trees are decorated with interpretations of this year’s theme, “A Timeless Christmas.”
A 10-foot tree “Under the Tree Since 1933” has ornaments from the classic board game “Monopoly,” with top hats, dice, tokens and play money. The tree was sponsored by iFrog Digital Marketing and will spend the holidays there. It was decorated by Leslie Ware, Vicki Whalen and Greg Whalen.
A memorial tree, “Anchors Aweigh,” was dedicated to the late Oxford Fire Chief Jon Fox, who died earlier this year.
Fox loved Oxford and being on the water. His tree is topped with a large, blue-green sea nettle with curly tentacles reaching down through other glittery creatures that inhabit the Tred Avon River. The tree was decorated by Annie Lerian, Valerie Haddaway and Robin Fox. It was sponsored by the Latitude 38 restaurant in Oxford and will spend the holidays there.
Shades of the 1946 Christmas film “It’s a Wonderful Life” come alive with movie stills, old buildings, ornaments that say “Hee-Haw” and other memorabilia in a tree decorated by Becky Ward and Rita Devine. The tree was sponsored by George Brooks House B&B.
“Jewels in the Night” is a tree decorated with snowflakes of all kinds, sponsored by Ewing, Dietz, Fountain and Kaludis P.A. It was decorated by Karen Kaludis, Peggy Ford and Tammy Miller. The tree’s destination is the Talbot County Courthouse.
“Sweet Christmas” is the name of the 6-foot tree dedicated to the late Dorothy Lyon. It was sponsored by John R. Crocker Co. Inc. and decorated by Julie Lyon Crocker and Ashley Lyon Tanis. Its destination is Londonderry on the Tred Avon.
This year’s hospice painting by artist Mandie Shockley is being raffled off.
Shockley’s work is featured on the front of the festival booklet, and shows a man and a child carrying home a holiday tree in the snow with a red, Eastern Shore barn in the background. Tickets are $10 or three for $25.
Shockley’s artwork is recreated in a model train scene at the festival designed and provided by Patrick Lanahan. Only those with the sharpest eyes can pick out the tiny scene as the train whizzes by.
Also being raffled is a one-of-a-kind diamond and blue topaz ring designed specially for the festival by Robert Wolcott and his son Jason of Colonial Jewelers in Easton. Raffle tickets are $50 each or three for $100.
Other raffles include those for a $1,000 Southwest Airlines gift card donated by Shirlynn Shafer and Bill and Marie U’Ren; a custom-made wooden bench by Old Wood Delaware; and a crab quilt wall hanging stitched by the Bayside Quilters.
All raffles will be drawn at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3. Ticket-holders do not need to be present to win.
There also will be lots of holiday shopping available in the Christmas Elves Shop, in the Tidewater Inn.
Live music will be performed in the ballroom by various musicians and singers, changing hourly or semi-hourly throughout each day. Forty-four musical acts will perform holiday favorites over the four days of the festival.
The annual Festival of Trees continues through Tuesday, Dec. 3, with lots of events and chances to win, along with soaking up the ambiance in the Gold Ballroom full of glittering, decorated trees.
Hours for the festival are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, Dec 2; and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3.
For information about the Festival of Trees, visit www.festival-of-trees.org.