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The Festival of Trees honors a special leader

Barb Fournier was at the fifth annual Festival of Trees Friday night, laughing and having a good time, greeting friends and passersby at Holiday Village Mall.

It was quite a contrast to the time I saw her at the second Festival of Trees, then held at the Great Northern Fairgrounds.

Barb was chair of the event, and she was uptight, nervous and sure that something would go terribly wrong and ruin the evening.

John Kelleher

Of course, nothing went wrong, everyone had a good time and the Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line made a lot of money to help the young people the club serves.

Barb had come up with the idea of a Festival of Trees, having learned that the Livingston Boys & Girls Club had put on a similar event.

She built the Hi-Line Festival of Trees from the ground up, talking to people who agreed to decorate trees, to make donations to raffle off and to contribute money to the cause.

"Tonight, I can just sit back and enjoy it," she said Friday

If Barb looked apprehensive at all Friday night it was when she was called to the front to hear her praises sung by Rachel Dean, the club's endowment director.

Rachel presented her with an award for her long service to the club, especially for her involvement in the Festival of Trees.

The crowd joined in a standing ovation for the women who got the ball rolling on the annual festival more than five years ago.

It was a great tribute to someone who deserved it.

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The Festival of Trees is a community event at its best.

Friday night, the Lutheran Church bell choir performed as people entered the building.

Trees designed by area businesses and civic organizations were auctioned off, some for more than $1,000 each.

Quilted wall hangings sewn by members of the First Presbyterian Church were auctioned off.

Tim Brurud, the club director and master of ceremonies, told silly jokes despite pleas from the audience that he stop.

And Doug Kaercher, a club director and the evening's auctioneer, reminded people why they were at the event having such a good time.

"It's the kids," he said.

The club's plans to build a commercial-sized freezer will enable the staff to provide a light dinner for young people who need it.

Kaercher reminded people that far too many young people need such a dinner.

Stu McIntosh, who has stepped forward time and again to help the club, came forward to donate the $3,800 needed for the freezer.

As part of the effort to raise funds, the club had special Christmas tree ornaments, marking the 10th anniversary, designed that were sold for $25 each.

The club had a good number to sell when the night started.

The Rev. John Ulrich, of VanOrsdel United Methodist Church, offered to buy 36 of the remaining 72 ornaments, if 36 people would step forward to buy one each. Before long, all were sold.

Ulrich had come to see one of his church members, Barb Fournier, receive her award.

Each purchaser had the chance to win a quilt by Karen Vosen. The Rev. Ulrich won.

(John Kelleher is managing editor of the Havre Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected], (406) 265-6795, ext. 17, or (406) 390-0798.)

 

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