Lighting the Magic of the Season

05 Oct 2022

Cashiers Festival of Trees 

Story by Mandy Murry


It is the most wonderful time of year, and the act of giving is the spark that ignites the magic and joy. Here on the plateau, the Cashiers Festival of Trees lights up the season with its annual fundraiser benefiting Summer Charter School Foundation and numerous Highlands-Cashiers nonprofits. 


The family-friendly event held Thanksgiving weekend will feature a spectacle of holiday trees and wreaths, a VIP breakfast with Santa and Friends, a pop-up Build-a-Bear workshop, golf cart raffle, performances by local students, shopping, and so much more, including the Dolly Parton Imagination Library Storytime Stage, which features storytime throughout the event.


The 2021 inaugural event inspired many. With incredible tree submissions for viewing and bidding, the Festival of Trees instantly became a beloved event. Last year, the “Out of this World” tree sponsored by NASA, Susie and Pat Cunningham, and the late Chad Lucas, was auctioned for an incredible $7,500. The winner received both the beautifully designed space-themed tree and two spots at Space Camp in Texas. This year, many trees will include experiences for each winner. Wreaths and gift baskets also abound in the silent auction.


Applications for the 2022 tree, wreath, and gift basket submissions were accepted until August 31, 2022. Melissa Hudson, Development Director for Summit Charter School, is excited about the entries. “We have a lot of returning designers, such as interior designer Lynn Monday, and new designers, such as actress and designer Brooklyn Decker and Kirk Moore of Oakleaf Style. We also have many students and teachers participating, including those associated with the Summit Fine Arts Department and the Frisbee Disc Golf Club. McKee Properties has partnered with master knitter Charles Gandy to design a tree, and we have gift baskets for the very young to the young at heart. We can't wait!”


Proceeds from the event assist many area nonprofits as well as offer much needed financial support to Summit Charter School. As of press time, a sampling of nonprofits participating includes the Camp Merrie-Woode Foundation, Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust, Boys and Girls Club of the Plateau, Big Brothers Big Sisters of WNC - Cashiers & Highlands, The Blood Connection, Cashiers Historical Society, Highlands Biological Foundation, The Bascom, Albert Carlton - Cashiers Community Library and The Village Green. Last year, each nonprofit received 20 percent of its auction item proceeds. This year, in the spirit of even greater giving, the Summit Charter School Foundation has increased the amount to 80 percent, expanding its impact on the plateau’s worthy causes. 


For grownups and kids alike, the lineup of exhibitors and entertainment is the perfect way to kick off the holiday spirit. Holiday shopping for wreaths, ornaments, linens, pottery, jewelry, holiday decor and Calm Creek Farm’s famous honey products is just the beginning. One lucky event attendee will win a golf cart from Appalachian Golf Cars. All ages will enjoy creating a personalized Build-A-Bear, complete with accessories and clothing. When the first day of the event closes at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, November 25, attendees are encouraged to head to The Village Green for the park's annual tree lighting from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. 


Tickets for the festival are five dollars for adults. Children are free. Festival tickets can be purchased both in advance and at the door. If you are looking for something special to kick off your holiday, consider signing up as a Festival of Trees Benefactor to receive tickets to the VIP Breakfast on November 26. The chefs from The Club at High Hampton are providing the breakfast during which guests can mingle with Santa, Mrs. Claus, the Grinch and other magical characters. The VIP Breakfast is a ticketed event, and all tickets will need to be purchased in advance. 


The Cashiers Festival of Trees is held at the Summit Center (370 Mitten Lane), the athletics and fine arts facility at Summit Charter School. Event runs from November 25 - 26, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For the full schedule and tickets, visit


List of Exhibitors as of press time:



McKee Properties

Highlands Biological Foundation

Cashiers Quilters 

Camp Merrie-Woode Foundation

Brava Smart Countertop Oven 

Harry Potter Tabletop Tree

Viking Cooking School

Kamado Joe Grill 

Lebo Studios

Sarah’s Sweets

Turbochef Fire Outdoor Pizza Oven

Buff Blooms

Boys and Girls Club of the Plateau 

Growing Studio


Tractor Supply

Cedar Creek Club


Summit Charter School Fine Arts

Summit Charter School Frisbee Sports Club

Maryann Douglass

Dr. Patti Wheeler & Friends


Crawford Construction LLC

Tarte cosmetics 

Flat Mountain Farm 

Lynn Monday Home

Big Brothers Big Sisters of WNC - Cashiers & Highlands

REACH of Macon County 

Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust 

Bombshell Hair Boutique 

Cashiers Historical Society 

The Cashiers Store 


Sarah and Jud Chapin 

Fiddlehead Design 

The Club at High Hampton 

Albert Carlton - Cashiers Community Library

Chris and Jennifer Douglass

Summit Charter School First Grade

Summit Charter School Third Grade

Red Hot Clay Sauce

Kat Ford

Brooklyn Decker

Summit Charter School Second Grade 

Summit Family Association 

Zoller Hardware

Church of the Good Shepherd 

Slab Town Pizza / Smokehouse

Cashiers Farmers Market

The Bascom 

Summit Charter School Fifth Grade


Summit Charter School Foundation 

A Jones Company 

White Duck Taco

Highlands Technology Group

Cashiers Firewood 

Calm Creek Farm 

The Village Green 

Karen Hirons 

Mathis Landscaping 

Cashiers Chamber of Commerce 

The Blood Connection

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