Festival of Trees in Van Buren County

Many Iowa communities are leaping into the holiday spirit but an entire county in southeast Iowa is hosting a series of Yuletide events throughout December.

Stacey Reese, executive director of the Villages of Van Buren County, says one of the biggest Christmas celebrations in the area is the Festival of Trees, underway this weekend at the Roberts Memorial Center in Keosauqua.

There are about 50 live, full-size trees donated and decorated by local businesses and organizations with all funds raised going to Christmas for Kids of Van Buren County.

Admission is free and all of the trees will all be sold at a silent auction on Sunday. Reese says another popular attraction is in the town of Farmington, where the First Baptist Church will host an Outdoor Nativity Play on December 14th and 15th like none other.

“It’s an actual live Nativity scene and you walk through this trail, you’re guided through it by a shepherd and there are all sorts of activities at the church,” Reese says. “Along that same line, we have the Enchanted Forest Walk which is held at Waubonsie Park in Cantril.”

While colored lights adorn many thousands of houses across the state, she says the residents in two of the county’s communities go all out, with some homes using very sophisticated computers synching the lights and holiday music. The towns of Cantril and Keosauqua are both holding lighting contests that will be ranked and awarded big prizes by anonymous judges who are driving around.

“We see a lot of creativity with the lights,” Reese says. Other events throughout the month include a Breakfast with Santa, cookie and candy sales, a candlelit dinner and a tour of homes.

For more information, call 800-868-7822 or visit:  www.villagesofvanburen.com.