A tree from Ashe County will once again adorn the White House’s Blue Room this Christmas, with Peak Farms in Laurel Springs selected for the honor.
This will make the eighth time a Christmas tree from Ashe County will have the distinction of decorating the White House. Ashe County Manager Pat Mitchell said that it was nice recognition for the county.
Last year, many Christmas tree farmers made their way to Ashe County, the host of the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association annual meeting and contest. Paul Smith from Cool Springs Nursery in Avery County won in the Fraser fir category, while Rusty Estes and his son Beau Estes from Peak Farms in Ashe County won the “other” category with a Colorado blue spruce.
Both of these competitors went on to compete in the National Christmas Tree Association contest, which was held earlier this month in Sacramento, Calif. Smith took his Fraser fir while the Estes duo presented their blue spruce.
While talking to Richie Gardner, the president of the Ashe County Christmas Tree Association, he said that getting a competitive tree to California is no easy task. In order for the tree to arrive unharmed, the tree rode all the way to California standing up in water. If it had been laid down, he said, there is a chance that branches could have been damaged on the way, causing the tree to look less presentable.
But the effort put into hauling the tree was certainly worth it, because after the voting concluded, the blue spruce provided by the Estes pair was chosen as the overall winner.
Interestingly enough, Peak Farms will not be sending that blue spruce to the White House. According to Gardner, a Fraser fir will most definitely represent Ashe County in the president’s home. The tree farms compete for the distinction of being the best, so it’s the farm that is selected, not the tree itself, he said.
That means sometime in October, officials from the Obama administration will visit Peak Farms in Laurel Springs to choose the tree that will grace the White House Blue Room. Then, after Thanksgiving, they will return to oversee the cutting of the tree and it will be transported to the nation’s capitol in the tractor trailer displaying Fraser firs painted on the sides.
Rusty Estes, who with Beau and their family members will have the honor not only of providing but personally delivering the tree to the Obama’s, said, “It’s a special time for us. We can’t wait.”
Although Smith’s tree didn’t win the overall competition in Sacramento, Calif., he will still receive some esteem, as he will provide a tree for Vice President Joe Biden.
According to Estes, this is the first time trees from this region will decorate the homes of both the president and vice president for the holiday season.
As stated on the National Christmas Tree Association’s website, the tree must be 18.5 feet tall in order to reach the Blue Room ceiling, from where a power source for the lights descends. Along with this large tree, officials will also pick out several small trees and wreaths for added decoration.
This will certainly be a load to handle when the tree is cut down after Thanksgiving, but the positive publicity Ashe County will receive from it will heighten the county’s reputation for its Christmas trees, said Brad Edwards, Cooperative Extension Agriculture Agent for Ashe, who is very familiar with the county’s tree growers.
“It’s going to bring national attention to Ashe County,” Edwards said. “We’re very proud to be working with Rusty and Beau; there’s no one more deserving.”