It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Johnson City’s Hands On! Regional Museum, which is decking the halls for its 24th Annual Festival of Trees, a series of events that make up the museum’s biggest fund-raiser of the year.
Decorated trees, wreaths and centerpieces are on display through Nov. 13 as part of the popular “Showing of the Trees” exhibit. Each year, businesses and individuals from across the region donate their time and talents to produce one-of-a-kind holiday decorations that are auctioned off at the festival’s capstone event, “The Night of Lights Gala,” on Nov. 16 at the museum.
A special addition to this year’s “Showing of the Trees” is the “Children’s Forest,” made up of 14 trees decorated by youngsters from local schools and youth groups. Proceeds from the sale of these trees will be returned to the group or classroom that decorated them.
“It has turned out to be a great way to get children involved with our fundraiser,” said Kristine Carter, the museum’s marketing director. “They are the ones who really benefit from this event, through our programs and exhibits.”
Admission to the “Showing of the Trees” exhibit is free.
Hands On! supporters are invited to put on their dancing shoes on Nov. 16 for “The Night of Lights Gala” benefit auction, to be emceed by Josh Smith of WJHL News Channel 11.
The evening will begin at 6:30 p.m. with musical entertainment and a silent auction, which will include all greenery items from the “Showing of the Trees” as well as a variety of spa, dining, entertainment and sports packages. Bigger-ticket items will be up for grabs during the live auction, hosted by Mike Bauguess. Food will be catered by Cafe Lola. Unlimited will wrap up the evening with dancing music.
“Our gala benefit is unlike others since it provides auction items that will jump start your holiday decorating and gift buying,” Carter said. “We hold the ‘Night of Lights’ before Thanksgiving, since that’s when families traditionally do their decorating and begin their holiday shopping.”
Proceeds benefit the museum’s programs and exhibits, which were enjoyed by 70,000 visitors last year.
For gala tickets or more information, call (423) 434-HAND.
Festivals of trees are sprouting up elsewhere around the region, including Greeneville’s Niswonger Performing Arts Center, where the Greeneville Festival of Trees Committee is still accepting donations of decorated trees, wreaths, swags and floral arrangements for its upcoming show, to be held Nov. 12-21.
An open house for the event, sponsored by NPAC and Wellington Place Assisted Living of Greeneville, is set for 1 to 3 p.m., Nov. 11 at the arts center. Bidding on the donated items will continue daily during NPAC’s regular business hours and anytime through Nov. 21 online at www.greenevillenpac.com.
New this year is a special Family Night, featuring storytelling and a visit from Santa, from 5 to 7 p.m., Nov. 16.
Proceeds from the event will benefit the local food bank and NPAC, both non-profit organizations.
To donate an item or for more information, call NPAC (423) 638-1328.
In Big Stone Gap, Va., the Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park is gearing up for its 17th Annual Festival of Trees, opening Nov. 11 and continuing through Dec. 31.
Eighty trees, mantles, banisters and doorways — decorated in holiday style by families, churches, schools, businesses and civic groups from around the region — will be on display during regular museum hours. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday; from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Fridays; from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays; and from 1 to 5 p.m., Sundays.
The decorations take on a warm glow during the event’s special night viewings, held from 5 to 8:30 p.m. every Saturday in December.
Admission is $4 for ages 13 and up; $2 for children ages 6-12; and free for youngsters under 6.
Call (276) 523-1322 or visit http://swvamuseum.org.