CHOOSE & CUT Days

CHOOSE & CUT Days

Now firmly established as an annual tradition in the High Country, Choose & Cut season signals the official start of Christmas festivities for many families. Both local residents and out-of-towners take advantage of the numerous Choose & Cut farms throughout the area to pick the perfect showcase for their treasured family ornaments.

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CHOOSE & CUT DaysBefore this unique attraction developed, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas was considered a ‘shoulder season,’ one of the periods of the year when little or nothing was happening in the mountains to attract visitors and produce extra income for locals.

Using the same creativity and work ethic that has characterized the Christmas tree industry since it was founded in the North Carolina mountains, local tree growers have once again come up with an added bonus for farmers and local merchants, and an immediate favorite for families who like their seasonal activities along traditional lines.

And what could be more traditional than a North Carolina Fraser fir – the ‘Perfect Christmas Tree’ – a native-grown tree that has graced the mountains since the Ice Age 10,000 years ago.

The Fraser fir sports tight, soft needles, strong branches that hold ornaments, and holds its Christmas aroma - and needles – longer than any other Christmas tree. Picking your own North Carolina Fraser fir off a local farm has become the perfect way to start the holiday season, and for many families the trip up to Avery, Watauga, Ashe, or Alleghany County to pick out and take home their own North Carolina Fraser fir Christmas tree is already as integral a part of the holiday experience as snow and presents.

And the last few years tree farmers (and retailers and lodging and restaurant owners) have seen that become not only an important outing, but one that is making an economic impact on the whole area.

Starting generally on Thanksgiving Weekend (and on some farms earlier), anyone driving on High Country roads can count just about every other car or truck seen driving in and out of the mountains to be carrying a Choose & Cut Christmas tree.

Because the number of visitors has steadily increased over the past few years, many local operations are opening earlier and staying open longer to cope with the demand of people driving from all over the Southeast to get a tree and spend some serious quality time in the High Country. Some farms open as early as November 1.

Welcome to the 2006 Choose and Cut Christmas tree season! Tourism professionals say it is the first such new season created here since the ski resorts started packing snow and visitors in the 1970s.

Choose & Cut, like the Christmas tree industry itself – which began nationwide in Avery County in the 1950s – has been made possible by a natural feature of the region’s landscape; the native North Carolina Fraser fir that could be cut on Thanksgiving and still retain its needles, color, and fragrance through New Year’s Day and beyond.

But it has turned out that the growing number of visitors this time of year are finding as much enrichment from the farm and family experience as they are from the trees themselves.

This event – this season – has seen local attractions and outlets begin to cater to families that have added November to the summer and leaf seasons as prime times to enjoy the area and each other.

Both the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association, which is based in Boone, and the Watauga Nurseryman’s Association have printed brochures available on Choose & Cut operations.

And local farmers, many of whom just a few years ago considered Choose & Cut too risky and time-consuming a proposition, are not only taking to the idea but adding to it as well.

Visitors to the farms can now enjoy and participate in wreath, decoration and craft making, purchasing mountain-made jams, gifts, and seasonal items, take hayrides, hike into and around the farms, and even stay the night.

But the biggest attraction of the season continues to be the same one that originally brought urban and suburban families onto the backroads of the High Country as part of their Christmas experience.

A real tree from a real farm means a real Christmas tradition, and really great memories of the season.

Choose & Cut season is supported and coordinated by the local offices of the Chamber of Commerce and the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service; also Choose & Cut brochures are available at many area lodgings and restaurants, some of which offer discounts for Choose & Cut visitors.

For more information on Choose & Cut please call the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association at 828-262-5826 or go to http://www.ncchristmastrees.com/

Every farm sets its own schedule for Choose & Cut Days, and the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association’s guide is the most comprehensive source of information about local participants, including schedules, directions, trees available, accessories and special services. Additional information is also available from the Chambers of Commerce and the county’s Cooperative Extension office.

Watauga County:
Contact: Boone Convention and Visitor’s Bureau
Phone: 1-800-262-3516

Ashe & Alleghany County:
Contact: Ashe County Chamber of Commerce
Phone:336-246-9550

Avery County:
Contact: Avery/Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce
Phone:1-800-972-2183

NC Cooperative Extension #s:
WATAUGA 828-264-3061
ASHE 336-219-2650
AVERY 828-733-8270

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