The annual Festival of Trees in Lac La Biche is still happening this year, albeit in a different and slightly scaled back way according to the executive director of the Lac La Biche Chamber of Commerce Karen Collins.
Normally, the festival takes place in the Bold Centre with businesses and community groups decorating trees with ornaments and gifts and members of the public purchasing raffle tickets to enter for their favourite trees.
Because of the restrictions on events imposed by the province during the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was initially canceled.
“It felt like The Grinch had just sort of robbed us of Christmas here,” said Collins. “We needed a little bit of joy in the community. We needed to pick up the spirits of people and make it feel like a little bit like Christmas.”
The Chamber of Commerce teamed up with the Royal Canadian Legion to out on a smaller, socially distanced version of the event, the ‘Holiday Parade of Trees.’
“There’s 26 trees out there, displayed in various businesses in Lac La Biche and in Plamondon. And we encourage people to visit all the trees. So we’ve got a tree passport, where if you go to every single business and get them to stamp your book or sign their book, then there is a chance to win a really nice prize,” said Collins.
While details of the prize haven’t been finalized yet, she said they expect to have the full details available before the end of the festival and the individual trees have great prizes for the winners too.
“Lac La Biche county council did a tree and it’s got close to $1,000 worth of county dollars on it, which people can spend at any of the participating businesses in town,” said Collins.
“[Edcon Power Tongs & Oilfield Services Ltd.] put up a $2,500 tree. In that tree there are gift cards to the Liquor Stop, Kosta Café, Lac La Biche Sporting Goods, Screenshot Computers, Restore Wellness, Queen Bean Café and Bakery, The Stitichin’ Man, High Point Clothing,” said Lakeland Connect’s Chad Colbourne when he was in Lac La Biche on Tuesday to profile the event.
According to Collins, the event also includes a ‘24 Days of Joy’ Advent Calendar with daily draws for prizes donated by area businesses.
Collins said the response from the community has been good, especially considering how much they’ve had to rely on word of mouth and social media to get the word out.
“They only remember hearing that the Festival of Trees was canceled,” she said.
Raffle tickets for the trees and the advent calendar are still being sold for $1 each at ATB Financial, Lac La Biche Sporting Goods, Tarrabain Motors, Royal Canadian Legion, North Country Co-op, and Plamondon and District Community Development Society.
According to Collins, people purchase raffle tickets and enter in the draws for their favourite tree or for any day on the Advent Calendar. The tree winners will be drawn on Dec. 7 while the draws for the Advent Calendar will take place daily through Dec. 23.