Festival of Trees opens Friday at Jackson County History Center

BROWNSTOWN — The Brownstown Public Library had some of its patrons make snowmen out of various materials to place on a Christmas tree adorned with red lights.

A group of Japanese women from Zion Lutheran Church in Seymour made various origami figures, including snowmen, to put on a tree.

Jan Sipes visited various rummage sales and found different types of snowmen and included them on her tree along with red garland.

The Brownstown Central High School FFA chapter went with a white tree with multicolored lights and added a face, buttons and twigs and placed a pair of black boots at the bottom and a black hat on top to look like a snowman.

This is just a sample of the nearly 25 artificial Christmas trees on display in the livery barn on the Jackson County History Center campus in Brownstown for the fourth annual Festival of Trees.

The theme this year? As you may have guessed, snowmen.

Opening day is Friday from 3 to 9 p.m., and the public is invited to check out the decorated trees and special displays. At 5 p.m., Christmas carols will be presented by a community choir directed by Jan Willey.

“Anybody that wants to join in can come,” history center volunteer Margo Brewer said of the community choir.

People had between Nov. 10 and 20 to schedule a time to bring their Christmas tree and decorations for setup.

The total number of trees exceeds last year’s previous record when 21 were up for the voting by the public.

“Response has been good. It really has been good, and you can see the creativity,” Brewer said. “Every time I come in — and I’ve been down here about every day — it takes my breath away. It just absolutely does.”

The Festival of Trees will be available to view this weekend and every weekend in December along with several weekdays and a special event at the history center.

Any time it’s open, people can cast their vote for their favorite tree. Since there was a record number of trees last year, along with the traditional people’s choice award going to the top vote-getter, awards for first, second and third places were handed out.

The number of trees will be closer to 30 this year when other trees are decorated and lit up as filler throughout the livery barn, Brewer said.

There also are several displays to view, including three with snowmen, a Christmas village, a case with caroling figures and a woman riding in a buggy.

The special event is Christmas in the Barn. Previously known as Christmas in the Village when it was held in the schoolhouse on the campus, the event open to the public is set for 5 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 13 and will feature singing of Christmas songs and free hot chocolate and cookies in the livery barn.

“There again, people will be in here leading carols, and everybody is to join in and sing,” Brewer said. “We will have hot chocolate and cookies. We do that every year.”

Brewer said various church choirs will sing carols when the Festival of Trees is open on Sundays, and nursing homes in Jackson, Scott and Washington counties will be taking tours on Fridays in December. The livery barn is handicap-accessible and heated.

Any other groups wanting to schedule a time to view the trees and displays may call Brewer at 812-525-2295 or Gloria Cross at 812-521-6717.

Santa Claus will make an appearance at the Festival of Trees, too, but Brewer said she’s not exactly sure when. People are encouraged to follow the history center’s Facebook page and check for information in The Tribune when it’s available.

Admission to the Festival of Trees is free, but freewill donations to benefit the history center, which is a nonprofit organization, will be accepted. The display will remain up through Dec. 30.

For those interested in entering a tree in 2023, the theme already has been decided: Gnomes and elves.

At a glance 

Hours for the fourth annual Festival of Trees in the livery barn at the Jackson County History Center, 105 N. Sugar St., Brownstown

Nov. 25, 3 to 9 p.m. (community choir will sing beginning at 5 p.m.; people are invited to join the choir)

Nov. 26, 2 to 8 p.m.

Nov. 27, 1 to 4 p.m.

Nov. 30, 5 to 8 p.m.

Dec. 2, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Dec. 3, 1 to 8 p.m.

Dec. 4, 1 to 4 p.m.

Dec. 6, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Dec. 9, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Dec. 10, 1 to 8 p.m.

Dec. 11, 1 to 4 p.m.

Dec. 13, Christmas in the Barn, 5 to 8:30 p.m. (join in singing Christmas songs and enjoy free hot chocolate and cookies)

Dec. 16, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Dec. 17, 1 to 8 p.m.

Dec. 18, 1 to 4 p.m.

Dec. 19, 5 to 8 p.m.

Dec. 20, 5 to 8 p.m.

Dec. 21, 5 to 8 p.m.

Dec. 22, 5 to 8 p.m.

Dec. 23, 5 to 8 p.m.

Dec. 26, 5 to 8 p.m.

Dec. 28, 5 to 8 p.m.

Dec. 30, noon to 6 p.m.

Groups interested in scheduling a day and time to view the trees and displays may call Margo Brewer at 812-525-2295 or Gloria Cross at 812-521-6717.

Santa Claus will stop by the Festival of Trees sometime, too. Follow the history center on Facebook and check in The Tribune when that information is available.