THOUSANDS EXPECTED TO ATTEND THIS YEAR’S NK’MIP FESTIVAL OF TREES AT SPIRIT RIDGE
In less than three years, attending the Nk’Mip Festival of Trees has become an event hundreds in this community and throughout the South Okanagan don’t want to miss, says Jennifer Ziajka.
“There have been a lot of people mention to me that they have attended similar events in Vancouver and Victoria and they happen to think our Festival of Trees is the best one they’ve ever seen,” said Ziajka, the meeting and events co-ordinator for Spirit Ridge Resort and Spa, which is playing host to the third annual Nk’Mip Festival of Trees.
“All of the trees we put on display are nine-feet tall, so it takes a lot of time and effort to fully decorate them and every one of the teams that have entered this year’s festival have gone beyond the call of duty to make their tree look fantastic.”
This year’s festival kickoff took place this past Saturday afternoon and evening with close to 200 people attending to check out this year’s trees, which are on display in the main lodge at Spirit Ridge as well as inside the Nk’Mip Cellars winery.
A total of 36 local businesses and organizations are participating in this year’s festival.
The kickoff event was a free event where all 36 trees were displayed for the first time, but also involved lighting up the 50-foot Tree of Hope located outside the main lodge with Christmas lights. Children were also invited to play on inflatable toys and make crafts inside the Nk’Mip Conference Centre. Members of the Osoyoos Coyotes and Osoyoos Secondary School Concert Band were also on hand.
“We wanted to kickoff this year’s festival with a fun event for all members of the family,” she said. “To have more than 150 people come out on a rainy and windy day is just great.”
More than 2,300 people attended last year’s festival and organizers are hoping to have more than 3,000 people attend this year, which is remarkable considering only 1,200 attended during the inaugural event back in 2010, she said.
“”We’ve become more and more popular with each passing year and word has spread very quickly about the festival here in town and other parts of the valley,” said Ziajka. “We’re very happy to see so many people on opening night and we’re confident we’ll have terrific response throughout the holiday season and right until the festival wraps up in early January.”
All proceeds from the Nk’Mip Festival of Trees go towards assisting two worthy charities – the B.C. Children’s Hospital and the South Okanagan Children’s Charity, said Ziajka.
All of the money raised by the corporate sponsors during the event, which wraps up with the announcement of the best-decorated trees on Sunday, Jan. 6, will go to the B.C. Children’s Hospital, while money raised from the Tree of Hope and gingerbread house ticket sales will go to the South Okanagan Children’s Charity.
Those who attend the festival will be able to guess how many lights are on the Tree of Hope by donating $2 for each guess. They can also sponsor a strand on the tree for $20. Tickets to win a home-made gingerbread house are also being sold for $2 apiece.
Members of the public attending the festival are also being asked to donate $2 every time they vote on their favourite tree throughout the festival.
The winners will be decided through a public vote.
Last year’s festival helped raise more than $16,000 for both charities and the goal for this year is $20,000, said Ziajka.
Having staff from three dozen local businesses and organizations take the time and effort to participate in the festival is a good sign of how popular this event has become and how much community spiritthere is in Osoyoos, she said.
“This event is a great way to build community and Christmas spirit,” she said. “To have 36 trees entered in only our third year is just fantastic.”
The Nk’Mip Festival of Trees will remain open to the public daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week.