Santa’s elves are hard at work preparing for Garrett County’s holiday kick-off event, the Festival of Trees. The event will be held Friday, November 29, 9am-5pm and Saturday, November 30, 9am-4pm, at the GC Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall in McHenry. General admission is only $5/person for hours of holiday fun for adults and children.

Celebrating its 12th year, this cheerful, affordable family event has become a tradition for hundreds of locals and visitors to the County. Benefitting the Dove Center, Garrett County’s domestic violence and sexual assault services program, the Festival of Trees was developed by their Board and Staff, to serve as the organization’s major fundraiser. Since its inception, it has raised well over $150,000, which has helped the agency to leverage State and Federal Grant funds by acting as a match. The first two year’s event was originally held at the Oakland Armory. The community’s love for the event prompted rapid growth, and soon necessitated a change in venue to the Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall, where it has been held since. A committee of volunteers with a passion for the event and the Dove Center’s mission, meets tirelessly throughout the year to plan, improve and expand it.

“It thrills me that our major fundraiser is an event that promotes positive, quality, family time, because our ultimate goal is to create happy families. The fact that the Festival offers families a place to go to enjoy safe, healthy activities together, is as gratifying to me as the event’s monetary success,” stated Heather Hanline, Dove Center Executive Director.

The Festival has evolved to include something for everyone. Adults and children are awed as they stroll through the forest of decorated trees, wreaths, centerpieces and wallhangings donated by local designers. Hours of holiday entertainment are available through Frosty’s Funland, where children create keepsake crafts (this year’s theme is the Grinch), sand art, and have their faces painted in holiday themes. Mrs. Claus’ Bakery is open both days, where children decorate Christmas cookies, often with the guidance of Mrs. Claus herself! They are then on their way to the Crazy Christmas Hair booth, where they emerge with colorful, creative Who styles. Several characters will make appearances throughout the day, including: the Grinch, Santa, Mrs. Claus, Frosty, Gingerbread man, and more!

Friday & Saturday, be sure to interact for free with the two robotics teams: from 10am-2pm, G-Force robotic flying machines AND 2pm–close GaCo Robotics with the Lego cookie-decorating machine! FREE!

Adults and children can get a jump on Christmas shopping, as well. At the Elfenheim Mall, shop and wrap for just $1 per gift. Adults can browse for hours through nearly 50 craft and artisan vendors, or purchase from the newly expanded “Buy It Now” area, which includes hundreds of quality items at great prices. They are sure to find the perfect, unique gift for that special someone.

A variety of concessions are available throughout the day, in Mrs. Claus’ kitchen. The Kona Ice truck will be on-site, offering delicious shaved ice treats!

For a truly memorable day, families can begin with Breakfast with Santa, to be served Friday and Saturday mornings at 9am or 10 am. Breakfast with Santa requires a special $10 ticket, which covers admission for the entire day, a full breakfast, a professional photo with Santa in his sleigh, and a gift from Santa. Reservations are encouraged for Breakfast with Santa, and can be made by calling 301-334-6255, or emailing Tickets and reservations can also be made through General admission tickets can be purchased through eventbrite, or at the door.

Saturday, all activities end at 4pm to get ready for the Grand Finale live auction at 6pm. Registered bidders can relax and enjoy light refreshments and a cash bar by Dutch’s at Silver Tree, beginning at 5 pm. Bid on a favorite tree, wreath or centerpiece (free local delivery of large trees). Designer exhibits are judged by 3 members of the Arts Council. Come see which exhibits win ribbons! The bidding starts at 6pm Saturday to buy all of them, ribbons or not. They are ALL winners! No buyer premium and all proceeds benefit Dove Center.

Many thanks to our sponsors for their support to help make this event possible for us all! Sponsors for 2019 include Crossroads Church, GCC Technologies, Greenscapes, Zippee’s Market, Taylor-Made Deep Creek Vacations & Sale, the Inn at Deep Creek, Favorite Things Gift Shop, Pat Hanline Excavating, NeuBeam Technologies, and Deep Creek Marina.

For more information on the event, including sponsorship , designer forms, and volunteering, visit For more information about the Dove Center, visit or call 301-334-9000. Both can also be found on Facebook.