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iBerkshires.com Columnist Section

Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Bennington Museum Festival of Trees A Community Celebration

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Marie "Mimi" Janelle attended a Bennington Museum Festival of Trees Senior Tea on Nov. 29.
View Slide Show
Bennington, Vt. – The Bennington Museum Festival of Trees has become a fundraiser that raises spirit as well as revenue, according to museum Director of Development David Cass.

“It’s the community aspect that we find so wonderful,” Cass said during a Nov. 29 interview. “The area businesses and the community members know that this is our big fundraiser and everyone seems to come together.”

Festival Gala

The 10th yearly festival began on Nov. 25 and is scheduled to conclude with a “Gala Finale” on Dec. 16. Events leading to the gala include a silent auction; museum visitors may place bids on specific, decorated holiday trees, wreaths, gift-laden stockings, gift baskets, and other holiday treasures on display throughout the festival. Final bids will be accepted during the gala and the winning bids will be announced during the event. The gala will begin at 7 p.m.. Tickets are $30 per person or $50 per couple.
Reservations are encouraged.

“This is all about the community,” Cass said. “The local businesses make the donations of the trees and other items and the community members make the bids. The museum hosts special events throughout the festival.”

Senior Tea


Museum volunteer Wendy Schmitt served refreshments to senior tea guests.
The first festival special event was held on Nov. 29. About 75 senior citizens who reside at long-term care facilities located throughout the Bennington area were the museum’s guests of honor at a “Senior Tea.” Every guest was provided with a volunteer escort and was offered a tour of the museum’s display of holiday trees. As the tours concluded, refreshments were served at the Ada and Paul Paresky Museum Court and Education Center. Students of the Sacred Heart school performed a holiday concert that included Abby Thivierge’s vocal solo performance of “Not That Far From Bethlehem”
and a trumpet/clarinet duet that featured Thivierge and student Courtney Sahein.

Marie “Mimi” Janelle attended the tea.

“It’s all very nice,” she said. “The trees were very nice. I took a good look at them and I know the work that went into them. Everything looks very nice. I’m having a nice time.”

Janelle noted that she was indulging in a bit of “pretending” as she sipped a cup of non-alcoholic holiday punch.

“I am pretending that this is something more than it really is,” she said with a smile.

This trio of trees are part of a Festival of Trees silent auction.


Ultimate Auction and More

Included with the silent auction items is an “Ultimate Gift Bridal Package,” which includes a wedding gown, tuxedo rental, reception space at the museum, an overnight stay at the Arlington Inn, and other wedding amenities. An elaborate antique table setting is also included in the auction mix; the setting includes an 1890s Ridgeway green-and-white set of transfer ware for 12, a 1930s-era set of crystal for eight, a set of Rogers’ silver-plate flatware, vintage damask napkins and tablecloth, and a topiary centerpiece from Lily of the Valley florist shop. Among the many holiday trees included in the auction is a six-and-a-half-foot tall white tree donated by the Bank of Bennington and decorated with $96 worth of origami-folded $1 bills.

A festival “Holiday Brunch” is scheduled for Dec. 3. The brunch will host a 10:30 a.m. sitting and a 12:30 p.m. sitting; tickets are $15 per person, $7.50 for children age 12 and under. Reservations are encouraged.


State Rep. Mary Morrissey visited with guests at a Bennington Museum Senior Tea.
A “Champagne and Shopping” evening is set for 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Dec. 9. Shoppers may sip champagne and indulge in chocolates while perusing the museum gift shop in search of holiday gifts. Artist and illustrator Will Moses, a great-grandson of the famed artist Grandma Moses, is expected to sign copies of his prints and books during the event.

Also on Dec. 9, beginning at 7 p.m., the museum will host “Beyond 88 Keys,” a film directed by Sue Bettman focused on the life of Vermont native and musician Michael Arnowitt. Arnowitt is expected to attend the showing and perform live. Tickets are $5.

Families are invited to the Dec. 11 “Sugar Plum Family Day” for an afternoon of activities. “Santa Claus” has agreed to visit the museum during the event and will be available for photographs. “Sugar Plum Family Day” begins at 1 p.m. and concludes at 4 p.m.. Admission is $2 per person, children under age 2 will be admitted free.

Festival of Trees may be the ideal time for a first visit to the museum, Cass said.

This display welcomes visitors to the museum's Festival of Trees.


“I love it during Festival of Trees,” he said. “Everything looks so beautiful and so rich.”

The Bennington Museum, 75 Main St., is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Wednesday. General museum admission is $8 per adult, $7 senior citizen/student, children under 12 free, and a family rate of $19. Additional information about the museum and museum events is available at www.benningtonmuseum.org or by calling 802-447-1571.

A Bennington Museum Festival of Trees multi-photograph slideshow will be posted at www.iberkshires.com during the upcoming week.

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367.

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