Christmas tree farm closes out 2017 season with a cheer

FRENCH CREEK — A local Christmas tree farm closed out its 2017 regular season with a community event Saturday.

French Creek Christmas Trees, located on the Beechtown Road, has been selling trees for 35 years.

Owners Ron and Tillie Fowler began the community event several years ago. Children and their  families could visit with Santa, have a balloon animal made by Wuzzy the Elf, visit the nonprofit vendors and Christmas vendors and purchase some barbecue from Mad-D’s BBQ, tour a Banks District VFD truck, and take part in a special Rockin’ Upshur County rock hunt with several rocks hidden on the farm.   

“It’s a Christmas event, mostly geared for children and we are trying to help some of the nonprofits and people who are just trying to get started in their business,” Tillie said.

But the main business of the day was Christmas trees and with just over two weeks until the  big day, many families made their way to the farm to find that special tree.

The Buckhannon Lions Club provided volunteers to help direct parking as pedestrians milled about. Area residents also pitch in.

The community event is also a family affair for the Fowlers.

“Our son Joshua and his wife Erica and their two kids are here today helping,” Tillie said.

Ron Fowler sat nearby, talking to customers who returned with their selections.

Saturday was the last day the tree farm would be open this year.

“We are officially closing but we won’t turn anyone away,” he said. “We will not deny anybody the chance to get a tree, but they need to call us and let us know they are coming so we will be here.

“We have people who have marked trees and they will come and get their tree as well,” he said.

Ron Fowler said the tree farm is not going out of business, but closing down early due to the demand for trees.

There will be more ready to go next when French Creek Christmas Trees returns for its 2018 season. 

“I’ve got trees from seedlings we planted this spring all the way to big ones,” he said. “Once we plant a seedling, it averages eight years to get to Christmas tree height.”

French Creek Christmas Trees grows white pine, Norway spruce and Canaan fir and a challenge is to predict what people may want several years down the road and to keep up with the demand.

“Can you predict what people are going to want eight years down the line?” Fowler asked.

Whatever their choice, customers return year after year for their trees.

“We are on at least the fourth generation of families in some cases,” he said.  “They come and cut their trees because it is a family event. They don’t come here to buy a tree. They come here to have an experience, to walk around and look at all the trees and find that perfect one.”

Linda Withers, of Rock Cave, is one of those who returns year after year with her family.

“We always get a fresh tree,” she said. “This year there is yummy food; the barbecue is excellent.”

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