Is it Christmas time yet?

Friday November 16, 2012

"Christmas comes but once a year," goes the cliché. But those who trek on over to the Bennington Museum can start the merrymaking next week, Nov. 24, with the 16th annual Festival of Trees.

The yearly fundraising event is being organized this year by Deena Mallory, director of public programing at the museum and chair of the festival.

Each year the museum decorates several trees with different themes, and this year’s theme is "Around the World." Visitors to the museum will see trees decorated to represent winter traditions from all across the globe. From Christian holidays like the Feast of the Epiphany to Kwanza, the Winter Solstice and Chanukkah, with some trees themed around regions of the world instead of specific holidays.

"It’s truly become an exhibition," Bennington Museum marketing coordinator Susan Strano said.

"It’s a beautiful display," Mallory said in agreement.

In addition to the world-themed trees, several local businesses have been called in to create vignettes that include trees and aspects of their business, such as the book and crossword puzzle themed vignette constructed by Bennington Bookshop.

This year the children’s forest has expanded to include over 40 classes from local schools. Each class takes a mini-tree and decorates it according to the theme of the festival. The trees are then raffled off to benefit the museum.

"We rely on our fundraisers as a source of revenue," Strano said. "And (the festival) is certainly our biggest."

One other tree making a return after its premiere last year is the Tree of Thanks. The tree came about last year as a way to raise goods for the victims of tropical storm Irene.

"We were neck deep in planning when Irene hit," Mallory said. "We really wanted to help."

This year visitors are encouraged to bring non-perishable foods and hygiene products to help support the victims of hurricane Sandy. And on Children’s Day, Nov. 24 at 10 a.m. kids who bring in goods for donation get into the museum for free.

The trees will be on display through Dec. 30, but the festival is made up of three events that happen throughout the months of November and December.

Nov. 24 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Family Day and Children’s Shopping Day

$1 admission or free admission with donation of non-perishable food item for children. Visit with Santa from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Children’s shopping boutique: Children ages four to 12 are invited to do their holiday shopping with the museum. Shoppers’ helpers are available to pick our presents. Prices range from $1 to $7. Gift wrapping and tagging is included. Regular gift shop will be open for adults.

"Around the World" Gala - Dec. 8, 7 pm to 10 p.m.

This evening is based on the celebrations during the winter solstice from countries around the world. The Gala is an evening to enjoy a welcoming glass of bubbly, delectable savory and sweet foods representing dishes from different regions of the world, wine along with season drinks. Mt. Anthony Union High School Chamber Chorus and Jazz Ensemble performs. Welcome Blend rounds out the line-up of entertainment. All the exquisitely decorated galleries of the museum will be open for you to enjoy.

"There will be a very international flare at the gala," Mallory said.

During the Gala there will be a live auction and a silent auction.

Tickets are on sale now and are $50, they can be purchased by calling 802-447-1571. Reservations are recommended by Nov. 22.

Dec. 21 from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. "Afterglow" a Holiday Dance party.

Dance party featuring DJ Jonny Love of A-1 entertainment and holiday cocktails from a cash bar. Best of the Fest awards will be given out for the public’s favorite vignettes. $7 at the door.


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