James HowellStaff Writerjhowell@heartlandpublications.com
October 3, 2012
White House officials met with Beau and Rusty Estes at Peak Farms on Wednesday morning to officially select the Christmas tree that will decorate the White House Blue Room for the holiday season.
“I’m looking forward to seeing it (the tree) decorated in the White House Blue Room,” said Beau Estes, the co-owner of Peak Farms.
Peak Farms was chosen to send a tree to the White House by winning last year’s National Tree Association contest held in California. The Estes family also won the honor of sending a tree to the White House in 2008.
Jeff Owen, the area’s Christmas tree specialist from N.C. State University, said the White House’s representatives chose from just a few options that had already been selected.
Owen also said the White House officials basically knew which tree would be selected beforehand, and Wednesday’s event was held for the media.
The White House’s representatives selected the tree based on, among other things, the size of the trunk, the tree’s symmetry, and the tree’s height and width. After seeing each option, the three representatives conferred with each other to reach a decision.
The White House representatives eventually selected a Fraser Fir measuring 18.5 feet tall. This is the perfect height to reach the ceiling of the Blue Room, according to Travis Birdsell, the extension agent for agriculture.
Birdsell said the selected tree was born from a seed dating back to 1990, making the tree 22 years old. Birdsell also said the tree was planted in 1995.
After the tree was selected, Dale Haney, the superintendent of the White House’s grounds, placed a ceremonial bow on the tree. Afterwards, the White House’s representatives and the Estes family gathered around the tree to answer questions and pose for photos.
According to Beau Estes, the entire Estes family will be making a trip to the White House to deliver the tree on Nov. 23, one day after Thanksgiving. Beau said it would be a nice way to spend Thanksgiving with his family.
Until its delivery on Nov. 23, the tree will remain at Peak Farms, under the care of the Estes family. Rusty Estes, Beau’s father and fellow owner of Peak Farms, said “we’re going to keep it (the tree) well protected.”
The event attracted several people from the community, including Ashe County Manager Pat Mitchell and West Jefferson Town Manager Brantley Price.
Other White House officials included Angella Reid, the chief usher of the White House, and Jim Adams, the supervisory horticulturalist for the White House.