Believe it or not, Christmas is just around the corner and few events kick off the Christmas season better than Memorial’s Festival of Trees. From Santa and gingerbread cookies to elaborately decorated Christmas trees and holiday entertainment, this event provides fun and enjoyment for kids aged 1-101! This holiday extravaganza is open daily from Saturday, November 20 through Sunday, November 28 at the Richard Orr Building, located at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield. With annual attendance of approximately 30,000, the festival offers a fun-filled kaleidoscope of holiday sights, sounds and scents you won’t forget.
Admission is just $5 for adults and $2 for children ages 3-12. Seniors age 65 and over will receive a reduced admission price of $3 on Senior Day, Tuesday November 23 only. The west entrance of the Orr Building is handicapped accessible. Wheelchairs are available at both east and west entrances. Please view the Festival of Trees calendar for hours of operation.
About Memorial’s Festival of Trees
Memorial’s Festival of Trees started in 1989 as an event to benefit the healthcare programs offered by Memorial Medical Center. Since then, the festival has raised more than $2.4 million dollars for healthcare and has become the single largest family-oriented holiday tradition in central Illinois. Among the programs this fundraiser has aided are Memorial’s Regional Cancer Center, Memorial’s Regional Burn Center, and Mental Health Centers of Central Illinois.
Over the years, the Festival of Trees has grown to a 9-day event featuring more than 100 trees, swags, wreaths and showcases decorated with exquisite care by area designers; an elaborate hand-crafted Gingerbread Village; the Candy Cane Express train; the Little Elves’ Workshop; Santa’s House; a Holiday Market full of unique gift items; a Gingerbread Cookie Bakery; and a live entertainment area featuring dozens of musical performances.
Fanciful Christmas trees and other decorations
Each year, talented local designers donate their time and talent to create beautiful works of art. Come see these beautiful works of art in the form of 4’ to 7’ trees, 30-inch wreaths, and 32-inch crescent swags. These elaborate and ornate designs create the magical atmosphere that the Festival of Trees is known for.
Festival of gingerbread cookies
The sweet smell of delicious gingerbread cookies fills the air at the Festival of Trees. Over 13,000 cookies are hand-cut, baked, and carefully packaged by Jubelt’s Bakery and Restaurant and then volunteers decorate each one by hand, just for you. The gingerbread cookies are available at the Gingerbread Bakery during the Festival for $2.50 each. Enjoy milk with your cookie for $.50 a carton.
Candy Cane Express train and gingerbread village
Take a ride on the sparkling Candy Cane Express train, sized perfectly for anyone who is young at heart. Complete with a conductor and crossing gates, the train winds around a gingerbread village full of handmade creations, meticulously crafted of all things edible. The Gingerbread Village features a grand display of over 50 brilliantly decorated gingerbread structures, each one entirely made from edible ingredients. A model train also winds through the impressive exhibit of gingerbread homes, shops and buildings. All of the gingerbread houses are available for purchase at the Festival of Trees through silent bidding.
Over 2,000 local amateur and professional performers provide entertainment during the Festival of Trees. There is something for everyone in the huge line up of entertainers. From local school and church choirs and madrigal groups, to country, ballroom, tap, and polka dancers, and from piano and violin soloists and ensembles, to vocal duos and groups, you won’t be disappointed.
Little Elves’ Workshop and visits with Santa
The Little Elves’ Workshop is a special place just for the little ones. Children can make mementos and crafts for themselves or as a holiday gift for someone special. A list of crafts available for sale in the Little Elves’ Workshop includes gift bags, felt stockings, gingerbread house frames, ribbon bracelets, wreaths and potholders.
Santa and Mrs. Claus are available during the Festival of Trees. Little boys and girls can give Santa their holiday wish list and have their pictures taken with him. You can visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus daily during the Festival of Trees. Little girls and boys can give Santa their holiday wish list and have their picture taken with him. For a list of the Claus schedule Festival of Trees schedule, please click here.
Tasty gingerbread cookies aren’t the only food available during the Festival of Tree. The Holiday Kitchen serves a variety of food and including sandwiches, snacks, beverages and even pumpkin pie. The Kitchen is open daily during the festival, except on Thanksgiving Day, when only drinks are available. Sandwiches include chicken salad on croissants, barbecue pork, hot dogs or chili dogs, while snacks include pretzels, nachos, Frito pies (Fritos, chili and cheese), chips and popcorn. Certainly, there’s something here to satisfy anyone’s taste buds. Proceeds from the Holiday Kitchen benefit the programs and services of Memorial Medical Center Foundation.
Festival of Trees Holiday Market
Get a head-start on holiday shopping with a visit to the festival’s Holiday Market. Featuring hundreds of unique seasonal and gift items, including ornaments and holiday decorations, festive accessories and jewelry, and even toys for the little ones, you can purchase gifts for everyone on your holiday shopping list.
More information about Memorial’s Festival of Trees
To find the location and directions of the Robert Orr Building, please click here. For more information, please contact the Festival of Trees at (217) 788-4301 or visit their website .
About the Orr Building
The Richard Orr Building, constructed in 1990, is situated ion the northwest side of the fairgrounds. It has many amenities that aid in hosting large special events including two overhead doors, a loading dock for easy entry, office space, restrooms, and a finished kitchen with a refrigerator and an oven. A centrally located 22’ fountain adds elegance to a wedding reception or dance. Glass windows throughout the building allows for the natural sunlight to shine into it. In addition to wedding receptions and dances and the Illinois State Fair, the building has also been used for trade shows and many other events. To reserve an event, please contact the Non-Fair Events Office at (217) 782-1698.
Early history of the Illinois State Fair and Fairgrounds
The first Illinois State Fair was celebrated in 1853 in Springfield, just four years after Michigan initiated America’s very first state fair. In that first year, the admission fee was 25 cents. The Illinois State Fair moved during the first 40 years of its life, 1853-92, from place to place. It was celebrated as far north as Freeport and as far south as Du Quoin. In 1894, the State of Illinois began to use a 156-acre parcel of land on the northern boundary of Springfield, which became the heart of the permanent Illinois State Fairgrounds. A grandstand and racetrack were built, and the first auto races were held at the Illinois State Fairgrounds Racetrack in 1910. The fairground site was expanded to its current 366-acre dimensions in 1924.
During the years after the Civil War, the rules of agricultural judging became standardized, and more and more farmers began to show their farm products. Increasing knowledge of genetics inspired the breeding and showing of purebred farm animals at both county fairs and the Illinois State Fair. Starting with the end of World War II, the growth of productivity in agriculture began to reduce the number of jobs in American farming, both as a percentage of total population and in absolute numbers. State fairs began to transition themselves from agricultural trade shows to entertainment operations.
Recent history of the Illinois State Fairgrounds
In Illinois, the State Fair Grandstand, constructed in the late 19th century and reconstructed in 1927 and us, has hosted competitive auto racing since 1910, making it one of the oldest speedways in the United States. It was originally built as a place to watch harness racing, and is still used for that purpose. The “state fair circuit” became a recognized part of the overall live-music industry for many performers, especially but not exclusively in country music. Noted concerts held at the Grandstand include The Who as an opening act in 1968. In addition to concerts, other entertainment includes carnival rides, parades, games, and educational activities for children of all ages. The Illinois State Fair is operated by the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
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