James HowellStaff Writerjhowell@heartlandpublications.com
November 18, 2012
The White House Christmas tree finally started its long journey from Peak Farms to the White House’s Blue Room, stopping along the way to be celebrated by the community.
“This is a very exciting time for the Estes family and Ashe County,” said Jennifer Greene, the executive director of the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association.
The journey began at Peak Farms at 10 a.m., when the White House Christmas tree was cut down, baled and loaded into the semi-truck that would deliver the tree to the White House.
N.C. Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler attended the tree cutting at Peak Farms.
“I would like to thank Rusty and Beau for bringing the bacon back to North Carolina,” said Troxler. “North Carolina hadn’t sent a tree to the White House since 2008, and it was nice to end the drought.”
Troxler also said “I don’t think Christmas trees from any other state can match the quality of the Christmas trees grown in North Carolina.”
After the tree was loaded into the semi-truck, it made its way through West Jefferson during the town’s annual holiday parade.
Afterward, the tree stopped at the Ashe County Courthouse for the “White House Christmas Tree Cutting and Celebration;” one last stop before being delivered to the White House.
Several members of the community attended the event, including U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx.
Also in attendance was Cabot Hamilton, the executive director of the Ashe County Chamber of Commerce, who addressed to the public during the event.
“We’re here to thank Rusty and Beau, but we’re also here to celebrate agriculture, which is the number one industry in North Carolina.”
According to Hamilton, Ashe County has the second highest total of Christmas tree farms of any county in the nation. Ashe also ranks fourth in its number of trees and fifth in acreage devoted to Christmas tree farming in the nation.
“The great thing about tree farmers in Ashe is they’re our neighbors. We know these people; we see them in the grocery store and their children go to the same schools as everyone else’s,” said Hamilton.
“They also make great contributions to our community,” said Hamilton. The Ashe County Christmas Tree Association estimates the Christmas tree industry contributes more than $60 million annually to the Ashe County economy.
According to Hamilton, this is the seventh tree to visit the White House from Ashe County.
North Carolina leads all states with 12 Christmas trees sent to the White House.
Wisconsin and Washington are tied for the second most White House Christmas trees with seven each, meaning Ashe County alone has produced as many White House Christmas trees as the second place states.
The tree was set to arrive at the White House by Monday evening or early Tuesday morning.