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Festival of Trees branches out with new events

Amy Allen and Angie Knopp comprise one of the four teams competing today in Trimmed, a new Christmas tree decorating contest under the Festival of Trees. Trimmed starts at 6 p.m. today at the Blennerhassett Hotel. (Photo Provided)

PARKERSBURG — The United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley is expanding a signature event.

The alliance has added two new programs to the Festival of Trees, a yuletide tradition that kicked off earlier in November at the Blennerhassett Hotel in downtown Parkersburg where the first floor of the historic hotel was filled “with a breathtaking display of magnificent holiday spirit,” said Stacy DeCicco, executive director of the United Way.

The festival is a representation of a community coming together, doing what it can in its own individual way for a greater good, she said. To that end two new events have been added to the festival this year, DeCicco said.

The first, Trimmed, will be unveiled at 6 p.m. today at the Blennerhassett Hotel. Trimmed will be a showcase for four teams of decorators who will have 90 minutes to create a masterpiece tree in front of a live audience, DeCicco said.

“Their already challenging task will be compounded by the fact that they have never seen the decoration supply before,” DeCicco said. “They don’t know the exact rules of engagement for the competition until they enter the decorating field. They are only allowed to bring very limited tools into the competition.”

The four teams are Amy Allen and Angie Knopp, Brandon Gress and John Stanley, Jason Wyers and Missy Maidens and Wendy Shriver and Lisa Starcher Collins.

While the teams decorate, the audience will enjoy heavy hors d’oeuvres and beverages in a beautiful Christmas setting, she said.

A limited number of tickets will be available at the door.

The other is the Festival of Retail on Sunday.

Tickets are available online at the United Way website at uwamov.com/festival. Ticket holders will receive a shopping passport, which will be available at DaVinci’s in Williamstown.

Eight participating retailers will be open until 5 p.m. Sunday with exclusive deals and Festival of Retail shopper incentives, DeCicco said.

As shoppers make their way through the local, small business locations, they will have their shopping passport stamped at each stop, she said.

Festival of Retail trail ends at the Blennerhassett Hotel where a cookie reception will be awaiting participants while they have an opportunity to view the spectacular tree display, DeCicco said. Participants who stopped at each location, regardless of making a purchase, and had their passport stamped will be entered into the grand prize drawing, she said

One winner will receive a mega basket made up of items and gifts from each of the participating small businesses, DeCicco said. A $100 cash reward will be given to the most festively dressed shopper on the trail.

“As the Festival of Trees became a United Way signature event, one of our goals was to see it grow outward and upward,” DeCicco said. “We want to see as many people as possible getting involved in this long-standing community tradition. Last year we added a character breakfast- which was a huge success this year and a complete sellout. This year we wanted to expand the events even further. The addition of Trimmed and the fun edition of the Festival of Retail helps us to accomplish that goal and engage more people in this event, which means that we are able to raise more money to serve our community”

Victoria West, owner of Gift Gallery in Vienna and Cardinal Market at the Grand Central Mall, was part of the creative brain bank behind the creation of the Festival of Retail.

“As an active member of the business community, I felt the natural opportunity to join forces with other local businesses as we hold up United Way in an evening to shine,” West said. “I love everything that United Way stands for and hope the Festival of Retail lives on for many years to come”

Participating retailers for the 2021 Festival of Retail are DaVinci’s, Gift Gallery, Cardinal Market, Oasis, Mulberry Lane, The Bodega, Artbeat Studio, Buttermore & Son and the Blennerhassett Hotel. The first 100 shoppers to purchase a shopping passport receive a Festival of Retail reusable shopping tote.

“Small businesses are a critical backbone of the Mid-Ohio Valley. Having the opportunity to partner with them in a way that was mutually beneficial was something we were so excited to launch” DeCicco said.

For more information, call the United Way at 304-580-0570.

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