Following directly at the heels of a distressing power outage, the Tatamagouche and Pugwash Christmas tree festivals were a welcome reprieve and a sparkling introduction to the Christmas season on the North Shore.
The Tatamagouche celebration, held in early December, was the 34th Festival of Trees at the Fraser Cultural Centre. Initiated by Anna Hamilton in 1984, the festival honours her memory and dedication to the arts by featuring a tree decorated with her handmade tatted and straw ornaments near the entrance to the festival.
Alison Hayman, one of the organizers of this year’s festival, said that this was her fourth year working on the festivities. She is a staunch Christmas tree lover who traditionally decorates between six and eight trees in her own home.
“Christmas is a magical time of the year that brings families together and the tree festival brings the whole community together,” she explained. “The tree festival is the start of the Christmas season for me.”
With 27 community organizations, including 11 youth groups and numerous businesses decorating Christmas trees, the festival is still another example of Tatamagouche’s active fellowship. During the three days of decorating, the participants wandered around The Fraser socializing and admiring the trees.
“Everyone worked together to make it a success,” said Hayman.
All of the trees were donated by Allan and Angus Bonnyman, and were cut down by a hardy group of volunteers who waded through snow up to their knees to harvest the trees but had loads of fun doing it.
“The day we cut down the trees was sunny and beautiful,” said Hayman.
Tri County Ford’s tree was exceptional with heaps of brand new comfy slippers, socks, and hats, free to everyone keen on getting a pair.
Sharon United, Bayhead Union, and Brule Union churches came together to decorate a tree based on Advent, a time of eager waiting and preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus on Christmas day.
The Advent tree departed from the familiar chocolate treats and focused on suggestions for activities before Christmas one of which was, “have a dinner picnic in the glow of the Christmas tree.”
Reverend Penny Nelson was particularly excited about the Advent conversation starters that adorned the tree.
She said that questions like, “what’s the thing that you worry about the most and what are you most thankful for,” are ways to get couples and families talking to each other.
Elizabeth Clarke was the chairperson of the Tree Fest committee in Pugwash. She explained that this is the third year of the festival. Held in the spacious foyer of Pugwash District High School, this year there was a display of 16 trees with five new businesses participating.
The Wallace Sparks and Brownies were on hand making Christmas decorations.
Like Hayman, Clarke enjoys community volunteering and understands its importance. The Annapolis Valley native lived in Toronto for 15 years and recently returned to Nova Scotia.
“Helping to organize the tree festival has been a wonderful way to meet new people in the community,” she said.
The Pugwash festival included mulled hot cider served with delicious homemade cinnamon rolls. Seasonal music was provided by Bill Martin and his Six Rivers Internet Site.