Adding to the rural feel of this year’s Festival of Trees is the barn and outhouse. The outhouse will be one of the items on the auction billet<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->
Adding to the rural feel of this year’s Festival of Trees is the barn and outhouse. The outhouse will be one of the items on the auction billet

Everyone has a favorite holiday memory.... gathering at Grandma and Grandpa's house for a special Christmas Eve meal, sneaking down the stairs early Christmas morning to see presents under the tree or baking and decorating cookies until frosting and sprinkles were scattered about the table.

The holidays are full of memories for all. This year the Festival of Trees invites you to visit the Fest Building in Spring Grove and make some new warm, fuzzy memories through the old-fashioned decorations and viewing of the oral recordings of local residents' memories made by the Giants of the Earth Heritage Center of Spring Grove.

Friday kicks off celebration

"Rural Memories" at Houston County's Festival of Trees opens the day after Thanksgiving at 1 p.m. Open viewing continues until 8 p.m. that evening.

There is no charge to browse around the rural landscape of Grandma's house and more inside the comfort of the Fest Building, but people are welcome to leave a free-will donation.

For those that want to save time during the busy holiday season, they can purchase cookies during the Holiday Cookie Sale during open viewing hours.

From 4 to 7 p.m. holiday activities will be available for children, including a chance to visit with the man in red straight from the North Pole.

Hungry for something other than turkey leftovers? The Spring Grove Ambulance crew has the perfect meal for you - a spaghetti dinner served at the Fest Building from 4 to 7 p.m.

Viking Memorial Park will come alive with holiday spirit at 7 p.m. with the official lighting of Christmas-in-the-Village.

All of the characters of the village have been spruced up and put into place thanks to the hard work of the Spring Grove Area Past, Present and Future organization.

Warm refreshments and delicious holiday treats provided by members of the Spring Grove Commercial Club will be available for a free-will donation that will go towards the upkeep of the Christmas lighting.

Saturday features auction/gala

Saturday, Nov. 24, is another day of activity at the Festival of Trees. The open viewing begins at 10 a.m. and runs until 5 p.m. This is a great time to view all of the donated items that will be part of the auction later in the evening.

Camp Winnebago will be providing scrumptious food options from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

At 6 p.m. the Holiday Gala kicks off with delectable appetizers and great conversations with friends and neighbors as many gather together to help those in need.

Tickets to the gala are $20 and include appetizers and three drink tickets. The live fundraising auction begins at 8 p.m. Many wonderful items of a wide variety will be auctioned off with proceeds going to Houston County Care and Share, Houston County Food Shelf and other designated charities.

In 2009, $12,728 was raised during the Festival of Trees event. In 2010, that amount increased to $15,464, and last year it increased again to $16,176.

It is the hope and goal of the 2012 Festival of Trees to once again increase this amount so that more and more people may be helped.

The Festival of Trees Committee invites people to attend the gala and live auction, and while buying items that would make great gifts, they will also be benefiting many others through their generosity.

Sunday brings brunch

The Festival of Trees wraps up on Sunday with open viewing and a Holiday Brunch from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Holiday Brunch is hosted by Trinity Lutheran Youth and the Sunrise Care Facility. The two groups work together to prepare the food and serve it.

Brunch diners will also be treated to the festive tunes of local piano students. At 1 p.m. the 2012 Festival of Trees will wrap up and winning bidders at the auction will be able to pick up their purchases.

Help still needed

Decorating is still being completed this week and the Festival of Trees welcomes anyone who would like to help out. They have a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/mnfot) where updates will be posted.

People can also call the Fest Building, (507) 498-3683, letting it ring several times as people may be on a ladder and not able to answer immediately or if lights are on in the building, then someone is there working - so stop in!

Auction items still accepted

All items for the live auction are created and donated by local people. Items do not only have to be trees, but can be any festive item from a wall hanging to a centerpiece to a gift basket full of goodies.

The success of the Festival of Trees depends on the generous donations of items, as well as those generously bidding on items during the live auction.

Items for the auction will be accepted until Wednesday, Nov. 21, (to be included in the auction program). A donation form can be found on the Festival of Tree's website, www.mnfot.org under the "Donate" tab.

Auction items can be dropped off between 5 and 9 p.m. at the Fest Building daily until Nov. 21 or to verify that the building is open at different times, call (507) 498-3683.