So large and so popular that the 2019 edition of the event saw a complete overhaul that included a venue change to allow the Festival to bring in even more patrons and supporters.
The Moose Jaw Ford Curling Centre was a kaleidoscope of colours on Saturday night for the 28th annual Festival of Trees, with more than 300 people taking in the annual Moose Jaw Health Foundation fundraiser.
“It’s a whole different experience being in a new location, but we’re loving it,” said Festival chair Jackie D’Entremont as patrons began to file into the venue. “It gives us an opportunity to have more guests and decorating is unlimited here, we’re literally raising the roof. Some things are staying the same but we’re really happy with how things have turned out.
“Again, the community has come out in full force and bought tickets and sponsored trees, it’s great to have that kind of support.”
The event had previously been held at the Heritage Inn, but support in recent years has been so strong that the Festival needed a venue change. That’s where Mosaic Place came in, allowing more than 100 more patrons to take part with plenty of room for expansion.
“We could have gone up to 400 or 500 this year easily, but that’s a goal for another year,” d’Entremont said. “This year it was really manageable and it’s worked out really well.”
What supporters were treated too was nothing short of amazing.
Beyond the impressive design and ambience, supporters were served to a special dinner prepared by Top Chef Canada winner Dale MacKay of Saskatoon. His offerings included beet borscht bacon soup, carrot and ricotta cheese salad, a roast beef striploin and spinach puree entrée and vanilla and orange panna cotta for dessert.
Patrons were also treated to music by the band Rock Candy during the post-auction dance.
And then there was the highlight of the night – the Grand Live and Silent Auctions, which saw the impressively decorated trees and various displays auctioned off as well as a host of big-ticket silent auction items up for grabs.
Moose Jaw Health Foundation executive director Kelly McElree hoped to see enough money raised to close out the ongoing Mammography Matters fundraising campaign for a new, state-of-the-art digital mammography machine for the F.H. Wigmore Regional Hospital.
“At the end of the night, with the generosity of the people in this room, we’re hoping to reach that goal,” McElree said. “Every year 3,300 women have mammograms in our community, people come together to support that effort and we’re hoping everyone will give from their hearts and help people in this community because early detection is the key.”
Seeing the Festival grow into the powerful fundraiser that it’s become was especially heartwarming for McElree and the organizing committee.
“The Festival of Trees committee said ‘hey, we want to give Moose Jaw an experience that they’ve never had before,” McElree said. “And you take a look around the room tonight, with the gigantic sails on the ceiling, the kaleidoscope lighting throughout the venue, the video screens… that could all only be created by the vision of our Festival of Trees committee led by Jackie d’Entremont and I can’t give them enough credit to pull this all together.”