A sled dog racer and ventriloquist will be featured at this year’s Festival of Trees to be held Friday and Saturday at the North Dakota State Fair Center.
Since 2014, the Festival of Trees has provided fun and festive activities for all ages. New to the festival this year is North Dakota teen Eva Robinson and her race dogs, who placed 14th in the 2022 Junior Iditarod in Alaska. Participants can run with Robinson and her race dogs during the annual “Dashing Through the Snow” 5K Run/Walk or one-mile Family Fun Run through Roosevelt Park on Saturday.
In addition, they can hear Robinson’s story on stage inside. Also on stage this year for the first time will be Linda Mohagen, a ventriloquist from South Dakota and her “Friends,” who will arrive in a suitcase.
Festival admission is free for indoor daytime events, with free-will donations accepted.
Sponsored by Dakota Hope Clinic of Minot, Tioga and Bottineau, the fundraiser will dedicate one hall to the “Holiday Shoppe,” where guests can purchase fresh holiday wreaths, make a holiday centerpiece with succulents, learn how to roll lefse and pick up pies and other baked items for Thanksgiving and Christmas. A silent auction, with online bidding starting on today, also is part of the festival.
The traditional dinner and auction on Saturday will feature live music by Jared Schumaier and a meal by LBJ BBQ. Conducted by auctioneer Ben Stiegelmeier, the live auction of decorated trees and other premium items will be a highlight for attendees and those participating through the livestream at home.
“Anyone who wants to support Dakota Hope, but does not need a tree, will have the option to donate their tree to a Dakota Hope client family or a local non-profit,” said Tim Knutson, director of development for Dakota Hope.
Decorated trees provide the setting for local musicians and other performers to showcase their talents during “Tea in the Trees” from 1-4 p.m. on Friday, during which attendees can enjoy free homemade treats with a hot beverage.
Among the entertainers scheduled are dancers from the Rinat Mouzafarov Institute of Dance & Ballet Theatre in Minot. Dancers of all levels will be performing a Christmas show, beginning at 3 p.m.
“Because everyone is busy, we added more activities that will help attendees check off items on their to-do list,” said festival chair Amanda Olson.
Popular annual free attractions include Follow the Star interactive nativity, horse-drawn wagon rides, and professional family photos.Follow the Star will be better than ever with new costumes, backdrops, and a revised script. Certain trusted elves also have notified clinic officials that visitors from the North Pole, Santa and Mrs. Claus will return for a visit.
“We have inspiration and food, along with free and fun activities that the whole family can enjoy while they learn about and support Dakota Hope,” said Clinic Director Nadia Smetana.