Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

November 11, 2012

New festival fun

More activities, categories for Festival of Trees and Trains, set to open Saturday

Lee Ward
The Independent

ASHLAND — The Paramount Arts Center’s Festival of Trees and Trains will celebrate the holidays and the original use of the theater with the theme “A Paramount Holiday on Screen.”

Entries in the FOTT, scheduled for Nov. 17 through 25 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., will have a movie-related theme. Rhonda Ballangee, chairwoman of the event, said she’s committed to decorating two trees, but she might take on another one or two. Last year, she decorated five.

“You have to look at it this way: these trees are unique works of art,” Ballangee said. “Each tree is a work of art and the public gets the chance during the festival to go look at all these works of art and to purchase one for their own. You can’t go out and buy trees like these anywhere.”

Her trees will be themed “Alice in Wonderland” and “Wizard of Oz.”

She noted each tree’s designer spends hours planning the concept, designing the look, gathering the materials and physically decorating the trees. She understands why.

“I get an adrenaline rush when I love to think of something you wouldn’t think of putting on a tree,” she explained.

FOTT will have a variety of sizes of trees available.

There are three categories: Large trees will range in size from 5 to 9 feet; miniature trees will be from 3 to 4-feet 8-inches tall; itsy bitsy trees will be 1 to 2-feet 8-inches tall.

Awards will be given by a panel of judges in the categories of professional and non-professionals. There also will be a People’s Choice award.

There also is a category for home accents indoor/outdoor and within that category are two new subcategories, Jim Shope, chairman of the home accents indoor/ourdoor, said.

Shope, who also is chairman of community trees and is in charge of decorating the marquee, said the new categories are:

‰handcrafted door decorations, which means anything that hangs on a door that is not a wreath. Items could be made of metal, fabric, wire, wood or other materials and could hang on an inside or outside door.

‰handcrafted cloth for  tables, stools or benches. Shope said the category includes fabric items that are quilted or decorated with needlepoint, needlepoint, applique, embroidery or other techniques and include tablecloths, runners, matts or chair covers.

Previously used categories still stand, including:

‰two- and three-dimensional figures, such as Santas, angels, carolers and snow people.

‰nativity set with threeor more figures which may be soft sculpture, painting or other media.

‰firescreen boards or dummy boards.

‰mantlepieces or mantle arrangements using fabric, greenery, ribbon or other media.

‰Christmas chairs or benches.

‰decor placed under the Christmas tree

‰wall hanging of soft sculpture.

‰open category, which includes anything that doesn’t fit into a previously mentioned category. Shope named topiary as an example.

Next year, he said he plans to have a category of decorations using recycled and repurposed materials.

“I’m encouraging poeple to do their own thing and make things you can’t buy across the counter, that there’s only one of,” Shope said.

Tuesday is the deadline for turning in items for the festival. Applications are available at the Paramount box office and online. Shope said decorators may also call the box office and let him know they’re planning to submit an item and he’ll make plans to have it when he’s setting up the festival.

Ballangee said red and gold will be a popular color combination in decorations this year and visitors to FOTT and those who look at Christmas decorations in general also will see some unusual color combinations, including the use of turquoise, lime and red together.

She said the Paramount will be decorated in green and gold, which are its colors, and some new decorations on the exterior are on tap.

A new activity has been added to the schedue: the Mad Hatter Tea Party.

There are two sessions, one at noon and one at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 19. The event will be on the stage of the Paramount. Guests will have tea and snacks and may compete in the Mad Hat Contest. Tickets are $12, which includes admission to FOTT. Door prizes will be awarded during the tea party.

“While enjoying the tea party, you will be in the middle of the festival,” Ballangee said. “From all the glowing lights of the breath-taking artistically decorated trees to the home accents, it will be an experience to remember for all.”

This is the 27th year for the festival. Last year, it attracted about 11,000 visitors.

Ballangee said this is her fourth year as chairwoman and it hasn’t begun to get old.

“I love it,” she said. “I would stay forever.”

LEE WARD can be reached at lward@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2661.