The Cambrian

Cambria Festival of Trees auction helps build community

Town criers Bev and Jerry Praver ring in the Festival of Trees.
Town criers Bev and Jerry Praver ring in the Festival of Trees. Courtesy photo

The Cambria Festival of Trees auction and gala sponsored by the Cambria Chamber of Commerce has provided more than $300,000 of financial aid to San Luis Obispo County nonprofit organizations.

This year’s event, themed “Where Treetops Glisten,” begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4, at the Veterans Memorial Building, 1000 Main St.

This marks the 20th year for the tree auction. It began in 1994 under the sponsorship of the chamber and the direction of organizer Mary Bakke, a Cambria shop owner who had worked on similar events in the San Joaquin Valley and thought the concept was ideal for Cambria. This year’s chairwoman is Deborah Koeppel.

Since the beginning, decorators transform the Memorial Building into a warm, festive holiday wonderland. It takes the contributions of all, from those donating and decorating a tree, wreath or holiday centerpiece to be auctioned, to those organizing and volunteering, to ticket buyers and bidders in the silent and live auctions, to make a difference in the ability of charities and other nonprofit groups to meet their goals of making the community a better place in which to live.

Comedian Jill Turnbow will again be the auctioneer. The ticket price of $25 includes admission, a gourmet buffet with food donated by local restaurants, fine wine donated by area vintners, live entertainment, a chance to win prizes and the opportunity to bid in silent and live auctions.

New this year for all those artistic and creative people who are donating and decorating auctioned items is a chance to win an award for showcasing their talents. Awards will be to decorated trees judged: “Best of Show,” “Best Use of Festival Theme,” “Most Traditional,” “Most Creative or Unique” and “Best Children’s Theme.”

A “Best of Show” award will also be given for the decorated wreath/centerpiece category.

In addition to the above, there will be a “People’s Choice” award. Festival attendees can donate $1 per vote for their favorite decorated item.

Tickets at available at the chamber office at 767 Main St. For more information on the event, including how to participate, call the chamber at 927-3624 or email