Over the past 20 years, the Festival of Trees has grown from a twenty festive tree showcase to a celebrated display of over ninety themed holiday beacons decorated with highly-coveted wish list items.
And for nearly a half-decade, host venue The Machine Shop has transformed their historic location into a winter wonderland filled with raffles and auctions, kids activities, face painting, Santa photo-ops and, new to this year, a quiet space for children to enjoy a holiday story. Although the festival is an enchanted place to kick off the holidays with family and friends, the real magic lies in the cause behind it.
This year’s Festival of Trees is anticipated to see over 10,000 visitors come through the door, raising over $100,000 for the Lung Association of Ontario to promote research, advocacy and education to improve lung health.
When it comes to the success of the November event, Melissa Porco, Marketing, The Machine Shop is quick to give kudos to Grace Briglio, Manager of Community Engagement with the Ontario Lung Association for her long-time dedication for the event.
So many people enjoy this event, says Porco, and don’t realize she’s a one-woman show pulling off the most successful Lung Association Event in Ontario.
Briglio humbly attributes the fundraiser’s success to her team of volunteers.
“I have the best volunteers, some who have been with me for years and some now have leadership roles,” says Briglio. “I now have about 200 volunteers, in total, who are just as passionate and dedicated to the success of this event and while their time is appreciated, I also welcome their ideas on how to make it even better.”
Planning an event like the Festival of Trees is a lengthily undertaking.
Long before attendees are even thinking about Christmas, planning for the next season starts in April and officially gets underway by June. Briglio, and her part-time assistant work in conjunction with approximately 200 volunteers who make the magic happen. During the festival, itself, over 100 volunteers are actively working the event, including many students.
“We love having The Machine Shop as our venue,” adds Briglio. “It is such a beautiful venue. There’s so much possibility with it and Melissa and her family are just as passionate about this event as I am and bend over backwards to contribute to its success.”
“Our family has always loved this event and my kids, who are 11 and 12 years old, know it as a holiday tradition,” says Porco. “When we first hosted the festival, it was the first time many people had been inside the Machine Shop so it was a great way to invite the community in, introduce them to some local history and host a much-loved holiday tradition that is a great community cause.”
The Festival of Trees is a great night out for families friends leading up to the holidays. Aside from admiring the trees and enjoying three fully licensed restaurants onsite, visitors can bid on the silent auction items in the winter wonderland display or try their luck on the many, donated raffle items including sports collectables, hotel stays and gift baskets.
Visit the Festival of Trees at The Machine Shop from November 14 to November 17. For more information, including festival hours, click here.