Memorial’s Festival of Trees Gala: A Special Holiday Event

336-12-022What started out as a small thank-you celebration for the sponsors and designers of Memorial’s Festival of Trees, the event’s annual Gala quickly evolved into its own exciting preview party and fundraiser that is open to the public and attracts nearly 1,000 guests.

Gala-goers have the opportunity to get an advanced peek at the dazzling displays created by dozens of volunteer designers who together transform the Orr Building on the Illinois State Fairgrounds into a festive family-friendly destination.

“The designers put forth a tremendous amount of time and effort,” said Amanda Johnson, event manager for Memorial Medical Center Foundation. “While the bare trees and wreaths are provided by the Festival of Trees, the designers are responsible for providing all materials used to decorate their items to create the beautiful works of art on display.”

Memorial’s Festival of Trees began in 1989 to raise funds to support grants awarded by the Memorial Medical Center Foundation for patient care, education and research. The success of the event is due in no small part to the generous support of its sponsors.

Johnson said many of the businesses and individuals have been sponsors for several years.  Locally franchised Ace Hardware, co-owned by George Preckwinkle, is one such sponsor. After Preckwinkle and his wife started as volunteers, Ace Hardware soon became a sponsor, supplying pre-lit trees.

“The Festival of Trees is a wonderful community event,” Preckwinkle said. “It’s a family-oriented atmosphere. Nobody gets tired of doing this because it’s so different every year.”

As part of their sponsorship agreement, Festival of Trees sponsors are able to select one or more of the decorated trees or wreaths to display in their homes or businesses.

“That’s where the idea of the Gala came into play,” Johnson said. “It’s an elegant evening event on behalf of our sponsors and designers.”

The Gala is a ticketed event featuring food and drinks, live music and a silent auction.

”Part of the excitement of the Gala is that it provides a chance for the public to preview the Festival well in advance of opening day, enjoy great food and wonderful music,” Johnson said. “The Boutique, with great gift ideas and many one-of-a-kind items, is open, and the silent auction is always a hit, especially so close to Christmas. Best of all, everyone is supporting a worthy cause that benefits so many healthcare programs in central Illinois.”

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Your invitation to the 2103 Memorial Festival of Trees Gala