Albert Lea Art Center, Northbridge Mall get set for annual Festival of Trees

Published 11:11 am Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Each tree has a different theme, usually according to whatever group or organization decorated them. – Hannah Dillon/Albert Lea Tribune

Each tree has a different theme, usually according to whatever group or organization decorated them. – Hannah Dillon/Albert Lea Tribune

From tree to shining tree

Take a walk down Christmas lane with the annual Festival of Trees.

The Festival of Trees, which is believed to have started in the late 1980s, is put on by the Albert Lea Art Center and will be in Northbridge Mall this year.

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This year’s Festival of Trees open house is from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. Music will be provided by Norrine Jensen and music students of Sharon Astrup-Scott; food will be served as well.

Donna Widenhoefer, volunteer with the art center who is working on the Festival of Trees, said there are 44 big trees that have been decorated by community organizations and individuals.

Two of those trees were decorated by people from Alden. Jane Haukoos, a silk floral designer and wedding consultant in Alden, decorated a “Doctor Who”-themed tree and Jolene Bute, owner of Accents in Alden, decorated a tree as well.

Widenhoefer said this was the first time that people from outside of Albert Lea have had a tree in the festival, to her knowledge.

Other local organizations that decorated trees include Friends of the Library, Knights of Columbus, Cedar Valley Services, Oak Park Place, St. John’s Lutheran Community, Blue Zones, the United Way of Freeborn County and the Grapevine Twist Square Dancers, among others.

Most of the trees and lights were supplied by the Art Center, Widenhoefer said, but some organizations brought their own trees.

There are also a selection of 4-foot trees that are up for sale. The trees are pre-lit, pre-decorated and are $35 each. Widenhoefer said that once the art center moves to the Freeborn National Bank building, they’ll need taller trees, so they’re working on selling the smaller ones.

The Festival of Trees will also feature a children’s corner.

“It’s fun to hear their oohs and aahs,” Widenhoefer said.

Last year, the Festival of Trees was in the Petran House next to the Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea, but this year the festivities will be in Northbridge Mall in a storefront between Plaza Morena and the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce.

While the Victorian setting of the Petran House was nice, Widenhoefer said, this year’s location is bigger and handicap accessible.

Due to all of the extra space, there are some holiday table settings set up. Widenhoefer said they were put up to add interest and break up the plethora of colorfully decorated trees.

The trees are adorned with bulbs, ornaments, ribbons, garlands and toppers of all kinds. Each tree has a specific theme depending on what group or individual decorated them.

Widenhoefer said the Festival of Trees is a good way to celebrate the season and enjoy the community effort put into the event.


If you go 

What: The Festival of Trees

When: Open house, 1-4 p.m. Sunday; open throughout December from 1-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays, and 1-8 p.m. on Fridays

Where: Northbridge Mall, 2510 Bridge Ave., between Plaza Morena and the Albert Lea-Freeborn Chamber of Commerce

How much: $5 donation