Annual Festival of Trees Auction projected to be most successful yet

By Hailey Chapman
Hays Daily News

With the holidays quickly approaching, the final day of the annual Festival of Trees auction concluded on Wednesday afternoon. Sponsored by the Arc of Central Plains, the Festival of Trees auction utilizes donated items from the community to create magnificent holiday displays. All proceeds from the auction are being used to commence phase three of the Arc Park.

The Arc Park is a fully inclusive site that has undergone its first two phases, the playground and splash pad, and is looking to conclude its production with its final phase, a turf baseball field.

The Silent Night tree sold for $90 in this years Festival of Tree's and is decorated with small angels, silver tinsel, and a lyric sheet for Silent Night.

The baseball field will reach 180 feet to its fence, and will allow individuals with limited mobility to enjoy playing ball. The field will also include dugouts and fencing and will be open to the community. The goal of the field is to encourage equal opportunity for able bodied, handicapped, and disabled individuals to come together and have a safe, accessible area to play with one another.

A wooden tree reading "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" lights up the showing room, adorned with dainty bulbs and draping ribbon.

“The goal is to provide and encourage inclusive play, so a child with a disability can play side by side with a neighbor, or an able bodied sibling,” McAdoo shared.

Phase three, however, is very dependent on how quickly money can be raised towards its production. Executive Director Kathy McAdoo shares that the increase on construction prices has estimated the park costs to be around $600,000.

Three traditional trees greet guests at the entrance of the showing room; the frosty white tree was one of a few items that sold for more than its fair market price.

“When kids are together and they're playing it's just a very natural thing, it isn't forced or planned, its just kids having fun and that's the most important thing is to encourage that kind of play,”

The Arc’s Festival of Trees auction plays a crucial part in fundraising. This will be the auction’s third year. The Arc uses an online format to allow an easier, more accessible way to gather the perfect holiday decor.

The first year of the auction started small with only thirteen trees auctioned off. It was also a very eye opening year for staff.

“COVID got us into this online model because we didn't have a choice but it worked out so well that we decided this is the way we would continue to do it,” McAdoo said.

The online model allows for bidders to see the items from home and place their bets virtually. This model also eliminates the hassle of moving, as many of the trees are very elaborately decorated.

This year, some of the tree themes include: FHSU, Barbie, Harry Potter, gnomes, 1960’s, sunflowers, s’mores, Coca Cola, A Christmas Story, and Hot Wheels, among other more traditionally decorated trees.

McAdoo shares that tree decorating usually begins in June, with all items being donated to the Arc. A small group of ladies volunteer their time organizing, sorting, and decorating each individual ornament to match each tree’s theme.

Revenue for the tree auction is currently projected to meet or exceed fair market value on over half of the sale items. McAdoo attributes this to the increase in items and bidders.

Though there are other fundraising events that occur throughout the year, the Festival of Trees Auction has become a staple for the Arc annually. As the attraction gains more attention, the prospect of completing the accessible baseball field becomes closer to attain.

“If you are limited from a mobile standpoint, using a walker or a wheelchair, navigating gravel and turf is tough,” McAdoo shared.

“It's an important thing for people to be able to play when they feel the urge to play,

instilling the aspect of community and togetherness, that’s what is important.”