Strikingly decorated Christmas trees were easy to find and so were people with generous hearts at the Blue Mountain Conference Center Friday and Saturday.

The 31st annual Festival of Trees proved to be a remarkable festival of giving.

A net total of at least $43,000 was raised for the community at the event, according to Ashley Walker of Soroptimist International of La Grande, which annually puts on the Festival of Trees. Walker is chair of the Soroptimist’s Festival of Trees Committee.

A significant amount of money was raised by the auction of 25 decorated Christmas trees — 18 large ones and seven mini trees, which were shorter than four feet. The trees sold for between $900 and $7,000, said Shirley Roberts of Soroptimist International.

Those donating the Christmas trees spent painstaking hours decorating them at the Blue Mountain Conference Center Thursday and Friday, said Di Lyn Larsen-Hill of Soroptimist International. A number of people had spent a year preparing their trees.

“Some people started buying decorations a year ahead of time,” Larsen-Hill said.

Creative and striking adornments on the trees included angels wings, elves, silver icicles that look like snow falling to the ground, flowing ribbons and white flowers.

The trees were auctioned off at the Festival of Trees gala Friday night.

Non-tree auction items sold at the banquet included passes for 18 holes of golf at Buffalo Peak Golf Course in Union, the La Grande Country Club in Island City and Alpine Meadows Golf Course in Enterprise and a Let R Buck package that provided tickets to four 2018 Northeast Oregon rodeos.

Money for community groups was also raised Saturday during a raffle and a silent auction during family day at the festival. Family day activities included photos with Santa, cookie decorating and Christmas-themed arts and crafts activities.

A total of $13,000 in scholarship money for graduates of Union County high schools was also raised at the gala.

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