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'O Christmas Tree'Festivals of trees offer inspiration for decking the halls this holiday season

November 22nd, 2011 4:05 am by Staff Report

  If you’re looking for a little holiday decorating inspiration, you’ll find no shortage of ideas to help you deck your own halls at several Festival of Trees celebrations going on around the region.



   •Today is the last day to browse —and bid on —dozens of holiday trees, wreaths, centerpieces, topiaries and other items decorated and donated by local businesses and individuals to“Festival of Trees 2011”at Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Greeneville.



   Viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.



   Admission is free, but a donation of canned goods to the Greeneville-Greene County Community Ministries Food Bank is encouraged.



   The event is sponsored by Greeneville’s Wellington Place Assisted Living and NPAC.



   Those wishing to bid on an item may register at the NPAC box office or bid online at www.greenevillen  pac.com  , where bidders can view photos of the trees and other items, monitor bids as they’re updated and place their own bids.



   Online bidding will close at midnight, tonight, and in-person bidding will end at noon, Wednesday.



   Winners will be announced immediately after bidding is closed. Purchased items may be taken home Wednesday afternoon or Friday,Nov.25, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.



   Proceeds will be divided between the Third Judicial District Child Advocacy Center and NPAC, both of which are non-profit organizations.



   NPAC is located at 212 Tusculum Blvd., Greeneville.



   •Four floors of lavish holiday decorations await visitors to the



   16th Annual Festival of Trees at the Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park in Big Stone Gap, Va.



   Continuing through Dec. 31, the festival began as a way to celebrate the holiday traditions of the Victorian era, during which the Southwest Virginia Museum was built, and to honor the role that C. Bascom Slemp, the driving force behind the founding of the museum, played in establishing the American tradition of a “national Christmas tree.”



   Slemp served as the personal secretary to President Calvin Coolidge. In 1923, a group from the Electrical League and the Washington , D.C. public schools approached him with the idea of erecting a Christmas tree on the White House lawn. Slemp passed along the idea to the First Lady, Grace Coolidge, who took up the cause. She recommended that the tree be placed on the ellipse south of the White House; thus, a tradition was born.



   More than 80 groups from around Southwest Virginia are responsible for the holiday trees and decorated mantels, doorways and banisters on display at the Southwest Virginia Museum this year.



   Visitors can tour the festival during regular museum hours and during special “night viewings”on Nov.26 and Dec. 3, 10 and 17. Admission is $4 for adults, $2 for children ages 6-12, and free for youngsters under 6. Group rates are available for parties of 10 or more.



   For more information, call the museum at (276) 523-1322.



   •Sycamore Shoals’annual Christmas Tree and Art Showkicks off the holidays at the state historic area in Elizabethton.



   This year’s show will open with a meet-the-artist reception from 1:30 to 4 p.m., Nov.27 in the park’s visitors center,where it will remain through Jan. 4.



   The public is invited to stop by and chat with some of the nearly 40 artists from the Watauga Valley Art League displaying and selling their artwork—representing a variety of media and styles —during the show.Music will be provided by harpist Jamie Johnson. Visitors can also check out nearly 20 live Fraser firs decorated by various community organizations.



   The trees and artwork will remain on display during regular park hours —from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., weekdays and Saturdays, and from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., Sundays — through Jan. 4.



   The park is located at 1651 W. Elk Avenue in Elizabethton.



   For more information, call Patsy Kelley Reading at (423) 743-7799 or Sycamore Shoals at (423) 543-5808, or visit the WVAL’s website at w w w. w a t a u g a - v a l l e y - a r t i s t s . c o m .

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