Micke Grove Regional Park will be filled with decorated Douglas fir trees, a variety of snowmen and residents from all over San Joaquin County and the Central Valley region next week.
That’s because the annual Festival of Trees returns to the San Joaquin County Historical Museum at the park on Dec. 4 and 5.
Museum executive director Phillip Merlo said he and his staff are excited to have the festival return after a one-year hiatus.
“It’s fantastic,” Merlo said. “We are really excited to be able to celebrate the holidays with the community again. We dedicated our time and energy, even prior to the pandemic, to make the festival more inclusive of other cultures, religions and beliefs, and I think we’ve got something everyone in the community can enjoy.”
As of Tuesday, the festival had 56 trees confirmed for display next week, but Merlo said there will be more registering in the coming days. The festival typically has 70 to 80 entries, decorated with a variety of ornaments including airplanes, chickens, and traditional Christmas icons.
The museum’s Docent Council will have a few different trees on display, with one decorated to honor Capt. Charles Weber and his family. Some of the docents have decorated their own trees as well, Merlo said.
Some local civic groups entering trees this year include the Stockton Art League, the California Retired Teachers Association, the San Joaquin/Stanislaus Cattlewomen, the Philomathean Club of Stockton, and the Lodi branch of the American Association of University Women.
Along with the many themed trees to admire, the festival will feature about half a dozen exhibits, such as display snowmen, antique plates and tableware — including fine China — carved bears and a blacksmithing demonstration.
There will be a variety of arts and crafts in which youngsters can participate, Merlo said, including a reindeer and Santa hunt where festival goers can find St. Nick and his hooved friends hiding in special places throughout the footprint of the event.
“There will still be cake and tea, too,” Merlo said. “But we’re moving that outdoors for safety precautions. We’ll have a 20-foot by 40-foot wedding tent up outside that will be hosting that particular part of the festival.”
The Hay Wagon and the Holiday Express will return for those who enjoy rides around the festival, and youngsters will be able to take pictures with Santa Claus.
There will be an event stage as well, featuring an array of different entertainment, including indigenous drummers.
“We really wanted to pick up where we left off (before the pandemic),” Merlo said. “I think we’ve really come back full-swing.”
The San Joaquin County Historical Museum is located in Micke Grove Regional Park, 11793 Micke Grove Road. Festival admission is $15 for adults, $5 for children ages 2-12. Children younger than 2 are admitted free.
Parking will be waived with a pre-purchased ticket by calling 209-331-2055. For more information, visit www.sanjoaquinhistory.org.