ASHLAND Volunteers are decking the halls — and the aisles — of the Paramount Arts Center in preparation for the 36th annual Festival of Trees and Trains.
With the theme “Hometown Holiday,” the festival will run Nov. 20 through 29, with the usually trees and trains taking center stage.
Tamme Grubb, who has been chairman of the event for the last five years, said it’s something the region looks forward to every holiday season.
“It’s such a beloved event in this community. Everybody goes to the Festival of Trees and Trains. It’s a family tradition,” Grubb said. “The thing I love the most is how people are bringing their children who came themselves as children.”
She said she loves the trees, but she’s also a fan of the new bowling pin category the festival started last year.
“They exceeded our expectations and we’re doing it again,” Grubb said. “We expect to have double what we had last year.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic will limit what can be done at the festival, organizers have found ways to work around it and provide as full an experience as possible, she said.
“We won’t have any entertainment on stage because you would have to deal with seating,” she said, noting there also won’t be a children’s gift shop or cocoa with Santa.
“Instead of having cocoa with Santa, we’ll offer socially distanced photos with Santa,” she said.
Because there won’t be school tours this year, admission for children younger than 12 will be free with an adult purchase.
For those who don’t feel comfortable going out at all, a virtual tour will be offered through MyTown TV which can be accessed at pacfott.org on Thanksgiving and Black Friday.
Coronavirus safety is of paramount importance, and Grubb said volunteers will work hard to keep the theater virus-free.
“Masks are required,” she said. “We have a written COVID plan in place and it’s been OK’d by the Ashland-Boyd County Health Department so we can allow everyone to safely participate.”
Part of the plan is a strict walk-through path and disinfecting that will be continual.
“The Paramount had a show this weekend and had a surprise inspection by the health department and scored a 99,” she said. “Considering all the new strict guidleines, it’s really impressive.”
Another safety move: All bidding will be done online.
“You don’t even have to attend or see the virtual tour,” Grubb said. “Just go online and look at the trees and bid.
“We will have someone stationed at the festival for people walking through who want to bid right now but don’t want to go on their phones and bid. The volunteer can place a bid for them.”
The goal of all these changes is simply to keep people safe from the virus.
“We want people to feel safe to come, and we want everyone to know we’re going above and beyond with safety measures,” Grubb said. “COVID has really changed the look of the festival this year, but it’s still going to be fabulous.”
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“Hometown Holiday” is the theme of the 36th annual Festival of Trees and Trains, scheduled for Nov. 20 through 29 at the Paramount Arts Center. Admission is $7 for adults and $6 for seniors; children admitted free. For more information, visit pacfott.org.
Nov. 20 — noon to 8 p.m.
Nov. 21 — noon to 8 p.m.
Nov. 22 — Noon to 6 p.m.
Nov. 23 — noon to 8 p.m.
Nov. 24 — noon to 8 p.m.
Nov. 25 — noon to 8 p.m.
Nov. 26 (Thanksgiving) — 4 to 8 p.m.
Nov. 27 — noon to 8 p.m.
Nov. 28 — noon to 8 p.m.
Nov. 29 — Noon to 6 p.m.