October 2, 2008
Racine's Festival of Trees pruned
After 19 years as Racine's premier Christmas season event, Festival of Trees is being cut back.
The Downtown Racine Corporation -- which both stages Festival of Trees and uses the proceeds to help fund its operation -- this week announced "a series of new and improved holiday Winterfest activities ... to replace what was formerly known as Festival of Trees."
Festival of Trees, once a 10-day event, filling Festival Hall with close to 100 beautifully decorated Christmas trees, music, events and holiday merchandise, has been on a six-year decline, said Devin Sutherland, DRC executive director. Two years ago it moved from Festival Hall to the smaller Memorial Hall -- suffering from one weekend of 65-degree weather and another with a 13" snowfall.
Last year, when it was presented at the Masonic Center for eight days, there were at most 65 trees, wreaths and garlands. No attendance figures were announced, but Sutherland said it was down from the previous year.
"After surveying, talking to sponsors, we felt it needed a true transformation. Time for a change, keep it fresh. This is the 20th year; events run their course," Sutherland said.
So, while events like the Princess Ball, the Sugar Plum Ball and Mother-Son Night will still be held -- again at the Masonic Center -- the reduced-size Festival of Trees itself will be held for just three days at the new ClearSpan tent building at Festival Park. It will run from Nov. 14-16. Some 30 trees are expected.
Sutherland noted that there still will be special events alongside the trees -- he mentioned games and a new chili cookoff among others -- and said that everyone who attends the ticketed events held at the Masonic Center will be given free admission to the Festival of Trees portion of the new Winterfest.
Three Winterfest events and ticket information about them are listed here.
Our pictures from the 2007 Festival of Trees are here.