Fantasy Tree Festival highlights weekend events





Building a dream roster is a general manager's fantasy in sports, but Garden City has its own roster full of a variety of talent as the weekend brings a fantasy event.

Russell Child Development Center will host the 27th Annual Fantasy Tree Festival Saturday at the Clarion Inn and Convention Center in Garden City.

The event, which benefits Russell Child Development Center's early intervention programs and services for children in southwest Kansas, includes live entertainment by Steps Dance School, a live auction and multiple silent auction tables that will run throughout the evening.

"The first five years is where it starts," said Deanna Berry, executive director of Russell Child Care Development Center. "We're really helping kids to be better prepared for life and to be better prepared for school," she said.

Avery Schwieterman, 3, who was diagnosed with epilepsy, cerebral palsy, and cortical visual impairment in 2011, has been helped by a Russell Child Development vision specialist who suggested different Apps for an iPad that can help repair the communication pathway from her brain to her eyes.

"There is a greater chance these dreams we have for Avery will come true," said Laryce Schwieterman, Avery's mother. "They have provided us with numerous aids to help her reach her full potential," she said.

Tickets are $40 per person or two for $75 and are available at the Clarion Inn, Regan Jewelers, Dillons East and West, Wheatfields on Main Street, The Corner on Main, Ward's Garden Center, American Inn Hotel & Suites and Russell Child Development Center.

Other events happening this weekend include:

* "Shop 'Til You Drop, All In One Spot" will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. today at the Elks Lodge, 905 Kansas Ave.

A number of vendors will be displaying a variety of wares, including sports collectibles, candles, Avon items, jewelry, purses and more. Vendors will set up at 5 p.m., with the showing opening at 7 p.m.

There is no admission fee, and the event is open to the public.

* The lighting ceremony to kick-off off the Christmas season begins Saturday with the lighting of Stevens Park, featuring visits with Santa Claus at 5 p.m., and the park lighting at 6:15 p.m.

Mayor Dan Fankhauser will be on hand to throw the switch to light the park, and then an a cappella verse of "Silent Night" will conclude the evening.

The Stevens Park lights are provided by Fry Eye Associates, Commerce Bank and the city of Garden City.

Hot chocolate will be provided by The Corner on Main.

Contact Beverly Schmitz Glass at (620) 276-0891 for more information.

Pies, cinnamon rolls, kolaches, peppernuts, candies and New Year's cookies will be available as the Peppernut Shoppe and Ten Thousand Villages Market return for the 29th year at Garden Valley Church. Breakfast and coffee also will be offered.

A selection of handcrafted wares created by artists from 30 countries will be offered for sale, including Christmas gifts and decorations, nativity scenes, linens, toys, jewelry, coffee beans, teapots and more.

Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the Garden Valley Church Family Center, corner of Third and Campbell streets.

For more information, call 276-7410.

* Also on Saturday will be the annual holiday home tour of the homes of Darla and Amro Samy, 2125 Buffalo Heights; Candie Gamino, 1113 Gillespie Place; Robin and Mitch Bergkamp, 1008 Lyle Ave.; and Becce Gigot, 1012 N. Main St., offered from 1 to 5 p.m.

It also will include Sunnyland Tablescapes, hosted by Fred and Kathryn Askren at Sunnyland Bed & Breakfast, 501 N. Fifth St.

Tickets are $15 and include six tablescape chance drawing entries, auction preview of the Fantasy Tree Festival and complimentary refreshments at Ward's Garden Café, 2703 N. U.S. Highway 83, from 2 to 5 p.m.

Tickets are available at the locations listed above for the Fantasy Tree Festival.

* Senior night is scheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday at the Eagles Lodge, U.S. Highway 83 and Mary Street.

Free admission is offered to those ages 65 and older; there will be a $5 charge for all others.

The dance, sponsored by Art Green, will feature "The Moonshiners."

* Violinist Christian Howes will perform Sunday at Garden City High School, 2720 Buffalo Way.

Strings and Friends, the concert series of the Strings Academy of the Plains, will present Howes in a concert and clinic with his ensemble. The clinic will begin at 1:30 p.m., followed by a concert with the Christian Howes Trio at 3 p.m.

Both events are open to the public.

Tickets are $10 and $5 for students and seniors, and are available at the door.

Howes has won many awards as a jazz performer and recording artist. He and "Southern Exposure" are coming off a six-night run at the historic Lincoln Center in New York City earlier this year, and have been touring extensively throughout the United States ever since.

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