This year’s Festival of Trees has been pruned back a little, but it still aims to delight visitors and raise money for health care in the region.
The 27th version of the event will not take place at Westerner Park, but will be moved to the old Sears location at Bower Place mall.
Travis Kuschminder, marketing and communications manager with the Red Deer Regional Health Foundation, said it’s been a roller-coaster ride trying to plan the festival, which is one of the group’s biggest fundraisers.
“It’s a huge fundraiser for us, and to have it in some capacity is just great,” said Kuschminder.
“Hopefully, people will find some normalcy with us having that event. Not everything has changed this year. A lot has changed and, hopefully, it can still bring some joy and happiness at that time of the year.”
It will be a longer festival this year, going from Nov. 14 to 28, and the traditional tree room will be open during mall hours. General admission fees will apply, but parking is free.
Typically, the festival runs over one weekend.
“We always are amazed at how much work goes into the festival and it kind of feels like it’s over in a blink of an eye. So all the work we put into it, for it to be around for a couple more days than usual, will just be beneficial for everyone,” Kuschminder said.
The foundation will not be hosting the usual special events, such as the Festival of Wines, Mistletoe Magic and Breakfast with Santa in 2020.
The foundation also said it will adhere to strict protocols, including limits on the number of people allowed in at a time, and social distancing procedures will also be in effect.
“We were always planning for something. It was just a matter of what we can do, and when we can do it, and how we can do it.
“Things are still changing every day. This is the blueprint for now. Hopefully, we are able to pull off a successful festival for 2020,” he said.
For 2020, proceeds from the event will be used to support the purchase of electronic fetal monitors, which assist in the labour and delivery unit at Red Deer Regional Hospital.
In the first 25 years of the festival, it has raised nearly $16 million for various projects at the hospital.