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Tree cutting a tradition for some

Some families return to Christmas tree farm year after year

Some families return to Christmas tree farm year after year

November 28, 2009|By MARIE GILBERT

SMITHSBURG -- Wayne and Shannon Steenburg were in search of the perfect holiday tree Saturday afternoon.

So they went Christmas chopping.

For the past five years, the Hagerstown couple has headed to Mountain's Edge Tree Farm the weekend after Thanksgiving to choose and cut an evergreen.

Accompanied by their three children, the pilgrimage is a bit of a family tradition, Shannon Steenburg said.

Grandparents, aunts and uncles also are part of the group -- roaming across 36 acres, searching for just the right tree, cutting it down and hauling it back to their cars.

Going out to cut down your Christmas tree might seem old-fashioned in an age of artificial, pre-lighted greens in a box.

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But the tradition lives on in families such as the Steenburgs.

"I've never bought a tree off a lot, never had an artificial tree," Wayne Steenburg said. "But I know this is a better experience."

Walter and Jody Jacques have been offering the public the opportunity to cut and choose their Christmas trees since the 1990s.

"We bought the property with the intent of doing some sort of farming," Walter Jacques said. "We knew a tree farm would be a good match because some of the property is kind of hilly."

Jacques said the family planted trees, originally thinking of selling them wholesale.

But when friends and family began coming to the farm to cut their own trees and talked about how enjoyable it was, the seed was planted to open the land to the public.

Jacques said people began arriving the day after Thanksgiving to cut and choose their trees. The next two weekends will be the busiest, he said.

About 400 to 500 people visit the tree farm each year, Jody Jacques said.

Seventy-five percent are repeat customers.

"Some people have been coming here for years," she said. "We have families who have their Christmas photos taken among the trees. Others come toward evening so they can watch the sun set. And when it snows, we have boys who will bring their snowboards and sled down the hill. It's more than just coming to find a Christmas tree."

The Jacques said people can choose a variety of trees on their farm, including Douglas, Concolor and Canaan fir, white pine, and Norway and blue spruce.

There also is a gift shop, tree stands, and hot chocolate and cookies.

Mark and Lucinda Stevens of Hagerstown said they have been coming to Mountain's Edge Tree Farm for the past seven years.

"It's very much a family tradition," Lucinda Stevens said.

Enjoying the day with their three children -- Abigail, 7, Rosanna, 4, and Gabriel, 1 -- the couple said they could spend all day at the tree farm.

"But the children picked out this year's tree, so the decision-making went pretty quickly," Lucinda Stevens said.

Ashley Ferguson, 18, of Smithsburg, cut down the family tree Saturday and helped pull it up onto a cart provided by the Jacques.

"My birthday was yesterday," she said. "I guess this is my present."

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