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Holidazzle trees for Drake Library

The annually Festival of Trees will surely warm your heart whether it’s frozen from the Iowa winter or is just naturally Scrooge-like. The event, sponsored by the Friends of the Drake Community Library, invites families, organizations and Grinnell businesses to decorate and display Christmas trees.

The festival, held in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce’s Jingle Bell Holiday, serves as a fundraiser for the Drake Community Library, as well as a dollar booster for businesses and other storefronts in town. The event will be hosted on the ground floor of the Drake Library, located at 930 Park Street.

The old Stewart Library of Grinnell sponsored the first Festival of Trees in 2000. The trees were housed at various locations in downtown Grinnell, since Stewart was not large enough to hold the impressive number of trees.

“It was started partly as a fundraising project for Friends and partly, I think, to raise awareness of the organization by participating in community holiday events,” wrote Lorna Caulkins, Director at the Drake Community Library.

Attendants of the festival vis-à-vis “dollar ballots” will determine the favorite trees in the festival. All proceeds from festival will benefit the Drake Community Library. Each year, the event raises around $300-$400.

“It’s…a fundraiser, or the way that we bring attention to Friends of Drake Community Library, and also to get people who aren’t so familiar with the library to see how awesome it is,” Brua-Behrens said.

Students at the College have also been known to participate in the festival in various ways.

“We’ve had some choral groups from the College as well, and that’s how some students have gotten involved recently,” Brua-Behrens said. “We’ve also had some dancing going on.”

In the past, trees have been decorated with kilts, constructed from paper mâché, books, and canned goods that were donated afterward the festival. One year, the Grinnell Middle School decorated trees for a classmate battling cancer, a tree that won the top award. Big Brothers-Big Sisters has also submitted trees, in addition to the Parent Teacher Organizations in the Grinnell area.

“One year we had [the Imagine Grinnell Foundation]…they are sort of like an incubator for certain projects in Grinnell,” Brua-Behrens said. “One year, you had to get on a bike…and pedal… to light up the tree. I think people expect it year after year.”

If decorating a tree isn’t your forte, there are plenty of other ways to get involved.

“You can do gingerbread houses, Christmas scenes,” Brua-Behrens said. “It’s an opportunity for people to kick off the holiday season in any way that they celebrate it.”

Another option is to donate holiday crafts or an assortment of baked goods for a Bake Sale to support the Friends of the Library.

“I think it’s been a wonderfully successful program. Lots of people attend
and enjoy the event,” Caulkins said. “Some funds are generated for the organization too. Businesses, organizations, and individuals enjoy participating by decorating

The Festival of Trees will begin this year on Friday, Dec. 2, with cookies and cider to bring in the cheer. The event will run through Sunday, Dec. 4.

“It brings awareness to the Friends of Drake Library, and getting the community to participate in something that’s benefitting the library, I think is something that is huge,” Brua-Behrens said.

To get involved, contact Nicole Brua-Behrens at before Nov. 15 to receive a participation form.

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