Festival of Trees organizers, from left, event founder Saba Tanner and event director Lisa Conner adjust the decorations on a Georgia Bulldog tree, one of over 35 that will be available for raffle in the old Mayfield’s Hardware building on the Square in Covington. The Festival of Trees is a fundraiser presented by the Optimist Club to benefit Special Olympics of Newton County. (Staff Photo: Karen Rohr)
COVINGTON — The Optimist Club will sponsor the annual Festival of Trees this year, bringing a holiday forest to downtown Covington.
Dawn Atha, festival director, said this year’s event is the biggest yet out of the three years it has been presented. Atha said all proceeds this year will benefit Special Olympics. Beneficiaries in the past have included Chimney Park and the Miracle League. This year organizers hope to raise $9,000 for Newton’s Special Olympics program.
“We had 23 trees donated last year, and this year we’ve got 41, so it’s growing every year and the community just loves it,” Atha said.
Silk trees adorned with every type of decoration and following a variety of themes will fill the former Mayfield’s Hardware building on the downtown Square starting Thursday night, Atha said. The event coincides with Covington’s Magical Lights of Christmas event.
“This year’s festival will include three sections: Christmas Past, Present and Future. Christmas Present includes 41 trees from 9 feet tall to 4-foot table top trees for silent auction,” said Covington Festival of Trees founder Saba Tanner. “There will also be $1 and $5 raffles for unique items donated by area businesses and organizations. We have bikes, gift cards, Christmas crafts, jewelry, ornaments, signed ‘Vampire Diaries’ posters and much more. Our Christmas Past area will offer gently used Christmas decorations and children’s toys that can be purchased as a cash and carry to take home with you. The Christmas Future area is where children can make crafts and play games while their parents shop.”
Anita Still, Covington Optimist president, said the Festival of Trees was a perfect fit for her club.
“We are thrilled to be part of such a wonderful opportunity,” said Still. “It only seemed natural that we would sponsor the festival because the Optimist Club is an organization that was founded on the promises of bringing out the best in kids.”
Atha said visitors will be able to bid on decorated trees over three weekends. Highest bidders on the trees and winners of the raffle items will be announced on Sunday, Dec. 8, starting at 1 p.m. Atha said it isn’t necessary to be present to win; winners will be notified and allowed to come pick up their tree or raffle item.
Decorated trees have been donated by a wide variety of organizations, Atha said, which is reflected in the types of ornaments. Atha said each high school in the county donated a tree with themed ornaments, and there are trees that carry out the themes of colleges, as well, including the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, Oxford College and Troy University.
“Newton Career Academy did a tree and they had all the things that they teach out there as their ornaments,” she said.
Local businesses and clubs, including two garden clubs, have also donated trees, she said.
The Festival of Trees schedule is as follows:
• Thursday, Nov. 21, 5 to 8 p.m.; Friday, Nov. 22, 5 to 8 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 23, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
• Friday, Nov. 29, 5 to 8 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 30, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
• Thursday, Dec. 5, 5 to 8 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 6, 5 to 8 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 7, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Atha said Mayfield Hardware donated space for the Festival of Trees for the second year in a row.
“We would like to thank Lee and Kendra Mayfield for being so gracious and allowing us the use of their building and utilities free of charge,” she said. “The hardest logistic every year is location. Without the support of the Mayfields, the festival would not be possible.”
For more information, please see the Festival of Trees Newton County Facebook page or call 770-827-1102.