Like all other events taking place this year, the Moose Jaw Health Foundation has made some big changes to the annual Festival of Trees fundraiser to ensure it will be pandemic-friendly.
The popular holiday event will be taking place on Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. with an online live auction and silent auction, rather than a gala event like previous years.
“There is no event quite like the Festival, which to date has raised over $4.3 million. 2020 has been a year of transition and change for everyone, and every man, woman and child has had their daily lives interrupted,” said MHJF chairman Ryan Hrechka. “Thank you to the Festival of Trees volunteer committee for meeting the challenges of 2020 with creativity and flair [and creating] a world-class online event right here in Moose Jaw.”
The auction will be interactive, featuring auctioneer Donny Peacock and Sharon Church, and bidders will still be able to chat, bid and challenge fellow attendees during the virtual event. Anyone will be able to view the auction as it unfolds, but those wanting to bid on any of the items will have to register in advance.
The Festival is hoping Festival attendees will plan their own viewing parties at home for the auction this year, while maintaining the province’s safety guidelines on gatherings, and offering an exclusive Festival meal delivered to your home to enjoy together.
As part of the event’s charm is being able to view and be amazed by the impressive trees donated by local businesses, the MJHF has made sure that this year’s Festival won't be missing that element despite its change in venue.
All of the holiday tree displays and auction items will be on display in the Moose Jaw Cultural Centre lobby beginning in mid-November and leading up to the auction, as well as listed in an online auction catalogue for viewing virtually — ensuring that the community still gets to “ooh” and “aah” over the impressive displays.
The Festival committee is also encouraging local businesses to decorate their storefronts in support of the event, to keep the festive energy alive.
Things will be a little different for donors and sponsors this year as well, as the Festival is offering recognition and sponsorship spotlights via social media, during the auction event and on the digital donor wall at the Dr. F.H. Wigmore Regional Hospital.
This year’s Festival of Trees will be raising money for new state-of-the-art equipment for the hospital, said Hrechka, as it has been doing for 28 years in the city. This year’s event will specifically be helping to purchase the next generation of urology equipment.
“Every dollar raised will stay here to help our friends and family with the next generation of urology equipment,” said Hrechka. “I know the energy and momentum created here today will inspire the community to support Festival.”
More details about the online Festival of Trees can be found at mjhf.org or by contacting the MJHF office at 1 (306) 694-0373.