If you go
■ What: Festival of Trees viewing and Holiday Market.
■ When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Tree raffle drawing at 4 p.m.
■ Where: Hilton Vancouver Washington, 301 W. Sixth St.
■ Cost: Attendance is free. Tree raffle tickets are $5 each.
Clark County residents and their four-legged friends got into the holiday spirit Saturday with several festive, family-friendly events in downtown Vancouver.
Families browsed the collection of professionally decorated trees at the Vancouver Rotary Festival of Trees. Kids from Prune Hill Elementary School played holiday tunes on recorders. Santa and Mrs. Claus posed for photos with kiddos and puppies. And adults shopped for handmade gifts at the Vancouver Farmers Market’s annual Holiday Market.
In past years, the events were held separately — the Holiday Market at the Hilton Vancouver Washington, the Festival of Trees at Pearson Air Museum. This year, however, everything took place under one roof in downtown Vancouver.
“We thought it was nice to include the market,” said Lorrie Erickson of Camas, who attended the event with her sons, 6-year-old Alex and 4-year-old Aaron, and her mother, Lynne Olson. “The boys miss the airplane things, but it’s nice to have the market here, and it’s indoors.”
In addition to the location change, this is the first year the decorated trees would be raffled off. In the past, they’ve been auctioned. The winner of each tree receives the tree, all of its decorations, $500 cash and a slew of other prizes related to the theme of the tree.
Erickson dropped a $5 raffle ticket into the boxes of two trees: “A Child’s Dream” for the boys and “A Romantic Christmas” for the parents. Alex had his eye on the “A Child’s Dream” tree early on, largely because of one coveted toy beneath it: a Star Wars Lego kit. Should they win the tree, though, Erickson made it clear the boys would be sharing the loot.
While attending the Festival of Trees is an annual family tradition for the Ericksons, it was a new experience for others.
Best friends Mila Baughman, 5, and Jillian Creech, 6, toured the trees for the first time Saturday with Mila’s mom, Venus Singh. Mila and Singh recently moved to Vancouver from Kelso. The holiday festivities in Kelso include a visit from Santa at the Amtrak station.
“I wanted to find something fun and festive like that,” Singh said.
So they visited the Festival of Trees.
Mila and Jillian, wearing holiday dresses, toured the trees and searched for words written on ribbons hanging on the trees. Those words went onto a scavenger hunt card that, once complete, made them eligible to win a wreath decorated with gingerbread men, mini gingerbread houses and ornaments filled with candy.
The girls said they liked the white trees best, especially the “Winter Candyland” tree covered with M&M character figurines, bags of M&M candies and other sweet ornaments.
Kelly Blanchard and her family were also first-time visitors to the festival.
“I’ve been wanting to come for years,” she said. “I finally made it.”
The Ridgefield family brought their four-legged members — 3-month-old Walter, a Boston terrier, and 3-month-old Toby, a black Lab — to get photos with Santa. The puppies and the kids — 8-year-old Ronan and 10-year-old Kyra — all posed together for what turned out to be a “great picture,” Blanchard said.
After photos with Santa and checking out the trees, the family took in some of the musical performances and made its way to the market for a little holiday shopping.
They were looking for something new and fun to do this Christmas season, and the festival didn’t disappoint.
“It’s really fun,” Blanchard said.