Xmas Tree Festival at Burr Homestead in Fairfield
FAIRFIELD — You may not have been able to travel up to the North Pole this year, but a visit to the Burr Homestead’s Fairfield Christmas Tree Festival might have been the next best thing.
The historic Victorian house on Old Post Road was alive in red and green over the weekend, smelling of pine boughs and spice-scented ornaments. Twinkling lights festooned the myriad holiday creations throughout the rooms, all being sold for the charitable benefit of the Bridgeport-based Center for Family Justice’s Camp HOPE.
“It’s just so festive and pretty, and everybody’s in good spirits,” said Connie DeMattia of Fairfield, who enjoys the sale each year.
“They do such a beautiful job,” she said. “It’s amazing the work that goes into this, and then it benefits the charity.”
For the 38t year, the festival has raised funds before the holiday to help make things a little easier for a worthy cause.
“Every year we select a different beneficiary,” said Toni Zeleny, festival board president.
Not only was the work of more than 20 local designers on display for sale starting Friday, but other events also generated funds as well, including a Casino Under the Stars on Saturday night and a Nutcracker Suite Tea Party.
“This is the kickoff to the holiday season for so many in our local community,” Zeleny said. “Over the weekend over 2,000 people come through our doors.”
“We’re so lucky to be the beneficiary,” said Kathy Maiolo, who chairs the CFJ board. “The festival is wonderful.”
Camp HOPE is the only trauma-informed camping and empowerment program for children in the world, according to Sasha Collins, camp coordinator, specifically for the children victims of trauma and violence.
“It’s going to be life changing,” she said of the fundraiser, because not only will the money get more kids to attend the camp — which has helped more than 100 children over the past four years — funding will also help with ongoing work at the CFJ center, which includes education programs and community projects for children ages seven to 17.
Charitable help was always at the core of the festival, according to Patty Moore of Fairfield, who came up with the idea in 1981.
“The original one was a fundraiser for the Barnum Festival,” she said, with many people surprised at an ample $6,000 that was raised to help.
“I thought it was going to be a one-shot deal,” she said, quite surprised that the festival has continued and grown.
“It’s changed a bit,” she said, with the original concept that local businesses would handle the decorations, rather than designers.
Moore said she got the idea from a similar event she visited in New Canaan.
“I thought it would be a very nice thing for here,” she said.
“I like the work that’s being done on the wreaths,” noted customer Charlene Boyer of Trumbull, who has been attending for several years. “It’s amazing how people can think out of the box in some of the things they do.”
“It’s just nice to see the kind of work people do,” said Joyce Olson of Norwalk.
“And it’s the start of the holiday season,” she said. “You just come here and you get the feeling.”
Fairfielder Dorothy Edgerton, who turns 93 the day after New Year’s, has enjoyed that feeling for more than 20 years now as a regular volunteer.
“It’s the best place to get into the Christmas spirit,” she said.
“You see all these happy people coming in here with all their tots,” she said. “It just makes you feel good.”