Some may think it’s too early to be hanging holiday lights or decorating Christmas trees, but in Sierra Vista, it’s just early enough.

Businesses and community members shook out their fake snow and dusted the rust off their decorating skills for the Sierra Vista Chamber of Commerce’s 20th annual Festival of Trees, which starts Saturday. Interim CEO for the chamber Melany Edwards-Barton said there are 90 total entries, which is 31 more than last year and the most the event has drawn since 2013.

“There was concern after last year if we should keep doing this,” Edwards-Barton admitted. “We were able to get quite a few folks back to donate who didn’t donate last year.”

Open communication and reaching out to donors over the past two years by the chamber team (which includes Lisa Gustafson, Carla Buldrini and Donna Brown) served as a reminder that the event was quickly approaching. Of the 90 entries: 42 are large trees, 15 are table-top trees and 14 are wreaths.

“The chamber staff is an amazing team,” Edwards-Barton said. “None of this could happen without their experience, their knowledge and their inspiring attitudes. I thank them from the bottom of my heart for making this a great year.”

Set up for the festival began Thursday and concludes at 6 p.m. on Friday. Judging will take place Saturday at 9 a.m., one hour before the mall opens. Sierra Vista Mayor Rick Mueller will once again select his choice for the Mayor’s Award and other community leaders will also serve as judges.

Edwards-Barton said some of the confirmed judges, other than the mayor, include Sheriff Mark Dannels, Sierra Vista Fire Chief Brian Jones, Captain Carlos Souza from the Salvation army, Tom Borer from the county and Michele McCollum from SSVEC.

The public is encouraged to view all the trees, wreaths and gingerbread houses during the Mall at Sierra Vista hours from Saturday to Dec. 3.

“This is a tradition for the community,” Edwards-Barton said. “We moved her 17 years ago and it’s something I’ve always taken my family to and I will bring them this year too.”

Raffle tickets will also be available until Dec. 3 with 50 percent of the proceeds going to the Boys & Girls Club of Sierra Vista. They can be purchased at the mall, the chamber and the Boys & Girls club daily. Chamber staff and ambassadors will be selling tickets at the mall Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. Tickets cost $5 each or five for $20.

The wine tree returns after being a hit last year. Tickets for the tree cost $20 each. The chamber is collecting donations of bottles of wine. If someone donates two bottles of wine they will get two free raffle tickets for the baskets, not the wine tree.

New this year is a shop local tree. Edwards-Barton said local business donated gift cards for the tree. Tickets for this raffle cost the same as the baskets.

“I feel so appreciative for the community for stepping up and their sense of giving this year,” Edwards-Barton said.

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