The Exeter community gathers for the annual Festival of Trees

EXETER – The Festival of Trees doesn’t magically appear at Exeter Town Hall every year.

The spectacular display of festively decorated trees is the result of a community coming together to ensure local children in need stay warm in winter. The tree festival committee, along with local business owners, schools, groups and community organizations work as a team to create the festival each year.

A few days before the event, 50 living trees are delivered to the town hall, thanks to Dan Jackson of Arjay Ace Hardware. The Exeter Men’s Walking Group then work to prepare the trees by cutting the trunks and trimming the nets before the committee of 38 women and other volunteers install them in stands donated by Jack Post Tree Stands.

Finally, registered decorators choose their trees and trim them creatively using their own lights and decorations. During the festival, committee members wearing their signature red scarves can be seen in a variety of roles welcoming visitors. Many of these dedicated women have been participating for over 20 years.

The public is invited to stroll through the Hôtel de Ville on Wednesday November 30 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Thursday December 1 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. to see the trees, place bids, try their luck on the covered raffle tree with over $5,200 in gift certificates and sample baked goods in the cookie room.

On December 1, the event will coincide with the “Holiday Block Party” near the bandstand, which includes city lighting, a visit from Santa Claus and the gingerbread house contest at the Congregational Church. .

On Wednesday 30 November there will be a singing performance by Exeter High School’s Tri-M Music Honors Society, a group dedicated to spreading joy through music. Kevin Joyce will sing Christmas carols on Thursday, December 1.

All proceeds from the Festival of Trees go to the Community Children’s Fund (CCF), which provides warm winter clothing and bedding to children in need in 12 local communities. Last year the CCF, under the auspices of the Exeter Area Charitable Foundation, distributed 686 vouchers; nearly $90,000 worth. Recipients are identified by area social service agencies and school nurses. Over $45,000 was raised at last year’s Festival of Trees event and he is one of the foundation’s top donors.

“A true partnership has developed between the Chamber of Commerce, the Exeter Area Charitable Foundation and the Festival of Trees Committee over the past 24 years and this is yet another example of the wonderful holiday spirit and of the collaboration that we see in our community,” said Bonnie. Galinski, co-president of the Festival of Trees.

Galinski said the committee often receives heartfelt thank you notes from families who qualify for the vouchers.

One mother wrote, “This program meant a lot to my family this year. Our bedroom has little to no heat, which becomes a problem, especially when temperatures drop below zero. We were able to buy a heated mattress for our daughter’s bed. In addition, we were able to buy our son a very warm winter coat and insulated boots for our daughter. Happy Holidays from a very grateful family in Exeter.”

Loyal subscribers donated nearly $20,000 to the CCF.

This year, the committee thanks: BankProv, Chinburg Builders, Edward Jones- Karen Behrens, Exeter Hospital, Graham Tire and Auto, Susan Conway- Pipers Property Management, Access Sports Medicine and Orthopedics, BMW of Stratham, Cummings, Lamont, & McNamee PLLC , DF Richard, Nathan Wechsler and Company PA, Newburyport Bank, Northland Forest Products, Phillips Exeter Academy, Riverwoods of Exeter, Service Federal Credit, Mila by The White Apron, Bayside Distributing, M&T Bank, Sons of the American Legion Squad 67 Newmarket, Perkins Power Equipment, Citizens Bank, CP Management, FW Webb, Kingston Insurance, Proulx Oil and Propane and United Underwriters.

For more information or to donate, please visit the Festival of Trees website at or go to the “Festival of Trees – Exeter” Facebook page, NH” for updates. If you have any questions, contact the Exeter Chamber of Commerce at 603-772-2411.