With the passing of all the turkey and trimmings from the table, many High Country residents are now turning their attention to searching for the perfect Holiday centerpiece: a freshly cut Christmas tree.
Unlike millions of Americans, locals don’t have to venture far to find the Fraser fir of their choice, as Ashe County and the rest of the High Country pride itself as one of the nation’s leaders in the raising of Christmas trees.
But locals aren’t the only ones cashing in on the county’s leading cash crop. Glenn Davis, proprietor of Davis Tree Farm in Piney Creek, has served customers from the Piedmont and as far away as Nashville, Tenn.
"They come from all over," Davis said.
What happens if Davis can’t make it to the farm to serve customers on any given day during the Choose and Cut season? He simply refers them to his neighbor’s farm, Johnson Tree Farm.
"We help each other out," said Davis
Now in his fifth year of running his tree business, Davis does not believe the slumping economy has affected the sale of trees and expects another successful season by the end of the choose and cut extravaganza on Dec. 20.
Linda Shumate, of Lyn-Lynn’s Trees, Wreaths, and Christmas Crafts said the Thanksgiving Weekend and the following week are traditionally her farm’s best week with tourists comprising the majority of her customer base.
"I’ve had folks from Charlotte, Winston, Taylorsville and even a few regulars from Florida," Shumate said. "I usually have more out-of-towners than locals probably because most people around here have kin folk who can find them trees."
If trudging through a tree field isn’t exactly your cup of tea, Lynn’s Trees also offers ready to carry precut trees and hot apple cider along with handcrafted gifts at a nearby shop to complete your next holiday excursion.
"We sell more wreaths than trees and we even have one really big wreath that people love to have their picture with because it sort of frames their face," Shumate said.
Other growers, such as Bill Smith of Top of the Mountain Christmas Trees, said that weather usually plays a leading factor in what type of customer turnout he can expect on any day during the season although he added that "business has been really good" as of late. Soggy days like Tuesday usually keeps tree seekers in doors and away from tree lots.
Hayrides, cups of cider and even a few inflatable snowmen are just a few of the little extras offered to customers at lots around the county in efforts to draw in new faces.
Tom Mash, of Mountain Memories Christmas Trees in Jefferson, said the side attractions also help draw children into the Choose and Cut season to make it a holiday event for the whole family to enjoy.
Mash, who is now in his 12th Choose and Cut season, said the economy has hit all too close to home with the slumping tree sales.
"People are starting to go with cheaper trees than they normally would have five years ago," said Mash who explained that business was "going well" this year on the farm.
Like other growers, most of Mash’s customer base hails from ‘off the mountain’ and as in his farm’s case up to 95 percent of all buyers are tourists.
Ashe County’s 2010 Choose and Cut season continue this week and the weeks leading up to the Christmas holiday.
Still not sure where to turn this holiday season for the perfect tree? Check out this list of local growers.
Angel Hare Forest
841 W. Reno Road
Davis Tree Farm
1620 Piney Creek Road
Grouse Ridge Trees
14911 Old Hwy 16
High Country Tree and Wreath Co. Inc.
13705 Hwy 18 South
Johnson Tree Farm
796 Piney Creek Road
965 Helen Blevins Road
Lil’ Grandfather Tree Farm
15371 N.C. Hwy 18 South
Long’s Choose and Cut Christmas Trees
8306 Hwy 16 S
238 Mt. Valley Drive
Lyn-Lynn’s Trees, Wreaths and Christmas Crafts
104 Shumate Drive
583 Burnt Hill Road
Mountain Memories Christmas Trees
500 Cox Road
Reindeer Crossing Choose and Cut
153 Wiley Street
Shady Rest Tree Farms
287 Trading Post Road
Three Top Mountain Evergreens
240 Miller Street
Tom Miller’s Tree Farm and Nursery
13893 Highway 18 South
Top of the Mountain Christmas Trees
1003 Round Knob Ridge
West End Wreaths
2152 Beaver Creek School Road
Article courtesy of Jesse Campbell with the Ashe Mountain Times.