The Saratoga Sun -

Festival of Trees raises $8,720


A group of holiday merry makers-about a couple hundred people altogether-crowded the Platte Valley Community Center for the Platte Valley Chamber of Commerce's annual Festival of Trees.

The crowds were treated to a catered meal and a softly-lit atmosphere meant for celebrating the season. But there was more going on than mere Christmas spirit, visiting with friends and neighbors and indulging in an early Christmas meal; the event is an annual fundraiser for the Chamber of Commerce.

To pull the event off, local business, individuals, groups and classes from around the Valley donated decorated Christmas trees, wreaths, decorations, one-of-a-kind crafted items, gift baskets, experiences and other items.

With all the trees and other items dispersed between them along the periphery of the room, the Great Hall of the PVCC was transformed into a veritable forest of Christmas trees.

It was through the forest of trees, ornaments, tinsel, ribbons and lights that the evening's auctioneer, Teense Willford, made his way around the room in a circle, soliciting bids for trees and all the other items.

As Willford made his way around the room, he used his renowned sense of humor to encourage bidding on the items. When old-fashioned auctioneering didn't work, Willford resorted to good-natured ribbing to cajole potential buyers into bidding.

And bid they did. Several items up for auction went for more than $500, including a package donated by Brush Creek Ranch, another experience offered by Hack's Tackle and a Wyoming-flag themed wooden Cornhole game set made and donated by students in Saratoga High School's Vo-tech classes.

According to Stacy Crimmins, Chief Executive Officer of the Platte Valley Chamber of Commerce, the event is designed to raise funds that will be used to support the chamber and a cause that will benefit everyone across the Valley.

In total, the chamber raised $8,720 for the evening. Part of the funds will benefit the chamber itself. Another portion of the money will be donated to a local group. According to Crimmins, a final decision as to which organization will receive the donation has not yet been determined, but the chamber does intend to donate the money in a way that benefits emergency medical services Valley-wide.

Overall, Crimmins said she was happy with the amount raised and is looking forward to using a portion of the funds to benefit emergency medical services for Valley residents and visitors.

"I am very happy with how the event went," Crimmins said. "We're also very thankful for all the businesses and organizations that made a donation for the auction."


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