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Festivals of trees sprouting up around the region

Entertainment Staff • Nov 11, 2013 at 10:25 AM

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Johnson City’s Hands On! Regional Museum, which is decking the halls for its 25th Annual Festival of Trees, a series of events that make up the museum’s biggest fund-raiser of the year.

Decorated trees, wreaths and centerpieces are on display through Nov. 19 as part of the popular “Showing of the Trees” exhibit. Each year, businesses, civic organizations and individuals from across the region donate their time and talents to produce one-of-a-kind holiday decorations that are auctioned off at the festival’s capstone event, “The Night of Lights Gala,” on Nov. 22 at the museum.

Admission to the “Showing of the Trees ” exhibit is free.

Hands On! supporters are invited to put on their dancing shoes on Nov. 22 for “The Night of Lights Gala” benefit auction, to be emceed by Josh Smith of WJHL News Channel 11. This year’s theme is “Take a Christmas Vacation at Hands On!”

The evening will begin at 6:30 p.m. with musical entertainment and a silent auction, which will include all greenery items from the “Showing of the Trees” as well as a variety of spa, dining, entertainment and sports packages. Bigger-ticket items will be up for grabs during the live auction, hosted by Mike Bauguess. Food will be catered by Main Street Cafe & Catering. The band SPANK will wrap up the evening with dancing music.

“Our gala benefit is unlike others since it provides auction items that will jump start your holiday decorating and gift buying,” said Kristine Carter, Hands On! Museum’s marketing manager. “We hold the Night of Lights before Thanksgiving, since that’s when families traditionally do their decorating and begin their holiday shopping.”

Proceeds benefit the museum’s programs and exhibits, which were enjoyed by more than 75,000 visitors last year.

For gala tickets or more information, call (423) 434-HAND.

Festivals of trees are sprouting up elsewhere around the region, including the Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park in Big Stone Gap, Va., which will open its 18th Annual Festival of Trees today. The display will continue through Dec. 31.

Eighty trees, mantles, banisters and doorways — decorated in holiday style by families, churches, schools, businesses and civic groups from around the region — will be on display during regular museum hours.

The decorations take on a warm glow during the event’s special night viewings, held from 5 to 8:30 p.m. every Saturday in December.

Admission is $4 for ages 13 and up; $2 for children ages 6-12; and free for youngsters under 6.

Call (276) 523-1322 or visit http://swvamuseum.org for more information.

In Elizabethton, Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area is gearing up for its second Lamplight Christmas/Holiday Wreath Exhibit, on display in the visitor’s center throughout December.

The wreaths, created by local businesses, civic groups, schools and individuals, are hung on period lamp posts built by the park’s maintenance staff and intermingled with artwork by members of the Watauga Valley Art League.

The visitors center is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and from 1 to 4:30 p.m., Sunday. Admission is free.

For more information about the wreath exhibit, call (423) 543-5808.

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