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Trees event raises thousands for local charities

Lac La Biche Christmas event generates gifts for local groups

LAC LA BICHE - It’s a wrap — a gift wrap — for the local groups that will benefit from the $49,309 in fundraising collected at this year’s ‘Festival of Trees’ event.

The funds will go to help 40 different organizations this year, said Festival of Trees lead organizer,  Pat Boon-Anderson. 

The recent weekend event that filled the Lac La Biche Bold Center with decorated trees, a home-craft vendors Shopping Extravaganza, a Santa photo booth and free family ice skating, was a big success. 

Shopping Extravaganza

Following months of preparations, the ‘Shopping Extravaganza’ drew 90 booths of vendors, bringing in more than 2,500 attendees to the one-day event, said Extravaganza organizer  Beverley Tkachuk.

Adapting the two-field houses in the Bold Center to accommodate social distancing and Alberta Health Services(AHS) guidelines through the event was challenging, said Tkachuk, but ultimately, supporting local business was a successful morale boost.

Last year, the event was one of the last public events permitted in the Bold Center before COVID measures restricted indoor gatherings. This year’s planning built off some of the challenges from last year.

“Last year was a real learning curve, but we decided that we should go ahead and give our local businesses a place to sell. This year was a little easier, but we're still trying,” she said, explaining that the feedback from vendors has been good. “Every vendor was happy with the sales.”

Another group benefitting from the Extravaganza this year is the local Kids Are Worth It nutritional lunch program at local schools. Proceeds from a vendor-supported raffle table went to the local food program. This year, $1,0000 was raised. The Lac La Biche Junior B Clippers program also received a $500 donation from the shopping event.

Festival of Trees

The big raffle event of the weekend was the annual Festival of Trees fundraiser. Almost selling out of the dollar-apiece, 50,000 tickets printed, proceeds will soon be distributed to the organizations who need support. Two main recipients will be the committee planning a new playground at the Light of Christ Catholic School in Lac La Biche and the Kids Are Worth It program, said Boon-Anderson.

This year, due to restrictions on attendance inside the event, many volunteer groups couldn’t provide in-person assistance at the event, so organizers offered them the chance to sell the raffle tickets and receive proceeds from the ticket sales. Organizers also increased the time the tickets were available, offering them for sale two weeks before the event to give groups more time to sell.

It was the best that organizers could offer, said Boon Anderson, admitting there were a lot of unknowns due to the pandemic. 

“We had no idea how much money we would make. ‘So, come on this journey with us,’ we said. We guaranteed them $250—and that’s not very much—and then as we make more money we’d pay them more.”

As the expenses are being tallied and the ticket sales are finalized, Boon-Anderson said the event exceeded all expectations.

“I’m writing them all an email saying, we made more money than we thought, please tell us how much you need,” she said, adding that the ticket sale was not only good news for local groups,  but also for community members.

“We got a lot of feedback that people liked being able to buy the tickets over the two weeks because it worked within their budget and it gave them better access,” she said. “The people who did buy out there, came with their tickets filled out too … It looked like it worked out well.”


Adding an additional day to the weekend to accommodate more people, and running the ‘Shopping Extravaganza’ and the local art club's Fabulous North Art Exhibition and Sale in different rooms, allowed people of all ages to enjoy themselves and spread out, said Boon-Anderson.

Next year, she said, organizers will formulate how the event will be created. In turn, with a such successful year, they feel optimistic about planning an even bigger event next year.


In the coming weeks Festival of Trees organizers will announce and award donations to local groups. More information will be followed up on

About the Author: Rahma Dalmar

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