Scores of people lined up at the Well on Williston State College’s campus to buy tickets for one of the biggest events of the season — The Williston Community Builders Festival of Trees.
The annual event brings out hundreds to enjoy an evening of fancy dress, fine dining and fundraising. The Festival features a variety of Christmas trees and wreaths decorated by local businesses and loaded with gifts, ready to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. The trees are decked out in a variety of different styles and colors of ornaments, most purchased locally in or around Williston. Gifts have been placed around the tree, coinciding with each business’ theme. Past trees were loaded with items from themes such as camping, ice fishing and staying fit.
Tickets for the Festival are known to sell out in record time, prompting some to begin lining up as early as 7:30 a.m. to wait for sales to begin at 5:30 p.m. This year’s event is looking to be bigger and better than before, setting up at the Williston ARC, the Festival’s largest venue to date. The signature tree auction will feature 26 trees for the live auction and eight wreaths for the silent auction, and past events have brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Williston Community Builders.
Each year, the Community Builders give that money right back to the community, helping dozens of organizations. Straying away from the norm, this year the Builders have earmarked the funds for one project in particular; a project the community has been advocating for for several years: a new outdoor pool for Williston.
“We have partnered with a group of community members who are very passionate about this project,” Community Builders member Codi Austreim told the Williston Herald. “In fact, a couple of our board members have become Pool Action Committee members for the pool project. So, we have pledged the entire proceeds of the Festival of Trees to the fundraising efforts for the outdoor pool.”
The pool project has a one-year fundraising timeline, which began this summer. That will be followed by a two-year buildout, with the intent to open the pool for business in 2024. A location for the pool has yet to be determined, but four locations are currently under consideration.