60 years for Christmas tree festival

FESTIVAL: Robyn Clark, Llew Gearing, Sue Arbon and John Skewes.
FESTIVAL: Robyn Clark, Llew Gearing, Sue Arbon and John Skewes.

It is time for people in Port Pirie to put up their Christmas trees as the Christmas tree festival officially starts this week. 

The festival held at Lighthouse Uniting Church will be celebrating their 60th year of festivities this year, after it was started by a small group of YWCA women who wanted to fundraise for the local organisation in 1958. 

Since then, Christmas spirit has kept the entries coming and for many, the start of the festival marks the time to start their celebrations. 

Sue Arbon, the activities coordinator for Lighthouse Church says the annual event encourages community spirit and she loves seeing the smiles it brings to children’s faces. 

“It just makes me happy. Seeing the cafe in this part of the hall and everybody coming in and meeting folks that they haven’t met for a long time and the social side, sitting and talking – brings people from different walks and backgrounds together.” 

This year there will be about 40 tree entries including 22 miscellaneous entries and they have come from schools, churches, clubs and organisations. 

The trees will be judged on the Wednesday night and Sue explains that the judging is unpredictable and it all depends upon their taste on the night. 

“They have different tastes and they may look for the children’s creativeness, or the religious or they might just look for the amount of work that has gone into it.”

“Sometimes the embroidery clubs do excellent needle work then again compare it against patty pan flower cakes from children, it is just what hits you in the heart at the time”, she said. 

The Christmas tree festival will be open on Thursday and Friday, November 29 and 30 from 10 am until 6pm, with a cake cutting on Thursday at 10.30. 

On Saturday, the festival will be open from 10 am until 2pm, with a car boot sale in the carpark from 9 am until 1pm. 

Father Christmas will also be available for a visit from the children, in addition to a nativity scene set up in the church.