The annual Festival of Trees – where holiday shoppers can purchase trees, centerpieces, wreaths and more – is a major source of support for Meals on Wheels and Help Them to Hope. The event kicks off Friday at 7 a.m. inside Ontario’s Clarion Inn and runs until Sunday. Click for more holiday events happening in Malheur County.

A Christmas ornament means it is that time of year. (The Enterprise/File)

ONTARIO – One of the biggest local fundraisers is ready to kick off its 31st year this weekend at the Clarion Inn.

The annual Festival of Trees celebration opens Friday and runs through Sunday at the hotel at 1249 Tapadera Ave. 

The festival – where holiday shoppers can purchase trees, centerpieces, wreaths and more – is a major source of support for Meals on Wheels and Help Them to Hope, said event organizer Debbie Blackaby.

“Seventy-five percent of the funds go to Meals on Wheels and we are the only fundraiser for the Meals on Wheels program. Twenty-five percent goes to Help Them to Hope,” said Blackaby.

Blackaby said last year the Festival of Trees raised $31,000. This year, in honor of the event’s 31st year, Blackaby said organizers hope to again generate $31,000.

Blackaby, who said she has been involved with Festival of Trees for 29 years, said the event is all about helping the community.

“I believe we are all here to help one another and that help comes in many forms,” said Blackaby.

Admission to the event is free Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. After that, it’s $2 for adults and $1 for children.

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“We will serve cinnamon rolls, coffee and juice,” said Blackaby.

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Festival of Trees will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Sunday local shoppers can visit from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and partake of numerous specials such as raffles for a toy box filled with toys.

Santa is scheduled to drop by the event Saturday from noon until 3 p.m. and photos with him are free.

On Saturday, the event will offer cookie decorating, face painting, and creating Christmas ornaments.

Also, as part of the event’s 31st year, Blackaby said 310 candy bars will be sold for $10 and 31 of the snacks hold certificates for prizes. One of the candy bars will also contain a grand prize of one quart of Baskin-Robbins ice cream every month for a year.

Blackaby said the festival’s support of both Meals on Wheels and Help Them to Hope is crucial, especially for the senior population.

“It is important to me we are helping them because they have helped us be where we are and now it is our turn to make sure they are cared for,” said Blackaby.

Blackaby said support from the community for the event is encouraging.

“Without the support of our businesses and individuals we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. I think it is important for the community to understand it is going to two worthy causes,” said Blackaby.

Other local events include: 

Saturday, Nov. 23

ST. PATRICK CATHOLIC CHURCH BAZAAR — 690 A ST. W. Vale. Start: 10 a.m-4 p.m.

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Thursday, Nov. 28

FREE COMMUNITY THANKSGIVING DINNER – First Christian Church, 180 NW 1st St., Ontario. Start: 11 a.m.

NYSSA COMMUNITY THANKSGIVING DINNER — Nyssa Senior Center, 316 Good Ave. Start: 11 a.m.

VALE COMMUNITY THANKSGIVING — Diamond Back Grill, 152 Clark St. N. Vale. Breakfast from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and lunch from noon to 2 p.m. Volunteers needed. Contact Chris M. 541-216-1480.

Friday, Nov. 29

CHRISTMAS SPIRIT AND LIGHTING CEREMONY — Four Rivers Cultural Center, 676 SW 5th Ave., Ontario. Start: 5 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 6

SANTA’S BREAKFAST – Elks Lodge, 20 SW 3rd St., Ontario. Start: 6:45 a.m.

VALE TREE LIGHTING – Wadleigh Park, Vale. Starts: 5:30 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 7 

NYSSA HOLIDAY PARADE — By Owyhee Riding Club. Start: 6 p.m. 

WINTER WONDERLAND PARADE — Downtown Ontario. Start: 1 p.m. 

Reporter Pat Caldwell: pat@malheurenterprise.com or 541-473-3377.

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