Festival of Trees
The Rochester Woodcarvers Club has supported the annual Hiawatha Homes Festival of Trees fund raising event for many years. The club designs, builds, and donates one or more trees and surrounding tree base complementary to the theme of the tree. All the ornaments used to decorate the tree and the base are carved to fit with that year’s theme chosen by the club. The Woodcarvers Club is very grateful that the Zumbro Valley Woodturners group collaborates on this project by “turning” and donating ornaments for the trees. Click here to visit the Hiawatha Homes site. Please view some of the club’s prior trees from the list of annual donations.
Some history of the Woodcarver’s Tree
Back in 1989 a group of our woodcarvers decided to use their carvings to decorate a Christmas tree as part of a fund raising event for a local charity, Hiawatha Homes. The Festival of Trees had started a couple years earlier having people donate their time and decorations to create trees. The trees go on display at the Festival over the Thanksgiving weekend bringing in people to view them along with other activities. At the end of the Festival, the sponsoring donors receive the trees.
The Woodcarver’s Tree quickly became a “Must See” item at the Festival. At the “Running of the Trees” where sponsors select their tree, our tree was highly valued and scooped up immediately.
Since our tree was so popular, discussions started about how it could be used to raise even more money. In 2007 it became part of the live auction bringing in $6000. After a couple of years people commented that very few had the financial ability to obtain our trees. This lead to the idea of having it raffled off – not only sponsors but now anyone could win the tree. That year the tree brought in nearly $11,500!
By this time the tree decorations, both carved and and lathe turned ornaments, included extravagant bases, like full buildings with carvings both in and around them. These have shown great craftsmanship. But in 2011 it went waaay overboard and was a true work of art – the Candyland Carousel. All 16 animals (including a skunk) moved as the 28 inch carousel rotated. A local Rosemaling expert (a Norwegian painting style) created detailed patterns inside and on the perimeter. It even played calliope music. The raffle winner turned out to be one of Hiawatha Homes’ residents who proudly displayed it to every visitor. It currently is owned by Mayo Clinic. Their art collection group will be including it in a future display at the clinic.
Some people commented that while large trees are nice in a business lobby, smaller ones would fit better in people’s houses. So in 2016 instead of one large tree, the club started making three smaller trees that would be raffled off to three winners. These have ranged from 2 to 6 feet tall and have even included a chainsaw carved tree.
For many years a skunk could be found somewhere around the base of the tree. The year with Noah’s Ark included a long rope pulling a dingy behind the ark with two skunks.