SPRINGFIELD, Vt. – As many as 200 people attended the Springfield Garden Club’s annual Festival of Trees “Winter Wonderland” fundraiser Friday, Nov. 22 at the Great Hall at 100 River St. This may be considered the event of the season with an opportunity for folks to dress in their formal best and enjoy the food, music provided by a jazz ensemble, and the incredible decorations all while giving back in a big way to the Garden Club to help support its many projects.
The Great Hall was stunning with the trees and lights, the men in black tie, and the women in stylish dresses. It was as good as it gets for a formal event. Not only was it well attended, but one club member said the Garden Club organized the event like a well-oiled machine. Clearly, this was an opportunity to celebrate the holidays in style.
For 26 years, this organization has devoted its time and efforts to the community through its multiple projects and has given more than $200,000 back into Springfield through activities, scholarships, and services. Friday night’s event did not disappoint the many people who attend this festival on an annual basis.
Sandy MacGillivray, a co-chair of the festival, along with Barb Riotte, the club’s treasurer, collected tickets and welcomed folks at the Pearl Street entrance of the hall. They directed guests to vote for their favorite tree among the 10 on display, lavishly decorated by local organizations such as Claremont Savings Bank, Springfield High School’s Community Outreach Group, and Kelley Sales and Services to name a few. MacGillivray said the festival is a major event and a wonderful kickoff to the holidays, but more than that it is the sole means of support for all of the programs the club provides to the community throughout the year.
There was a silent auction and a raffle of baskets that contained donated items and services offered by many area companies and larger items such as artwork, a 65-inch homemade quilt, a necklace, home heating oil, gym memberships, golf discounts, and ski lift tickets. For sale were handmade wreathes, bow-adorned candleholders, and evergreen baskets and centerpieces created by the Garden Club members.
New member Katherine Parker moved to Springfield a year ago from Oklahoma and said she is proud and happy to be a part of an organization that is so giving and is “just a nice group of people.” She was especially impressed with the club’s creation of small floral bouquets that are placed on the trays for the appreciative recipients of the Meals on Wheels program once every month.
Karen Vatne, the club’s photographer since 2016, said the club is always looking for new members, as the institutional memory of the organization will retire with its oldest members. She said you don’t have to be a grower or have a background in horticulture; you just need to join as either a full member or as a support member and be willing to give back to your community.
Of the many services the Garden Club provides, Vatne said there are once-a-month guest lecturers from educational organizations like Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and garden therapy in the summer months for adult day care seniors.
These are only a handful of the many ways in which the Garden Club provides for its own community. It has given scholarships to graduating high school seniors or college students pursuing the fields of horticulture, forestry, or environmental studies and worked with younger students to teach them how to plant a garden.
The Garden Club also oversees the plantings throughout the town including the town’s gardens at the Iron Bridge and the Blue Star Memorial, gardens that make Springfield such a lovely place to reside and offers a colorful welcome to visitors just passing through.