FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FRIDAY, OCT. 10, 2008
Linda Gragg, executive director
N.C. Christmas Tree Association
For the third time in four years, a North Carolina Christmas tree
is going to the White House
RALEIGH -- North Carolina Christmas trees are starting to feel right at home at the White House. For the third time in four years, a N.C. Fraser fir will grace the Blue Room of the White House, greeting visitors with its aromatic smell and 18-and-a-half-foot presence.
River Ridge Farms of Crumpler, owned and operated by business partners Jessie Davis, Rusty Estes and Carol Pennington, was selected for the honor by winning the title of Grand Champion Grower at the National Christmas Tree Association contest held in Des Moines, Iowa in August.
River Ridge Farms was chosen to represent North Carolina Christmas tree producers at their national convention by earning the top spot in the N.C. Christmas Tree Association’s tree contest.
“We are absolutely honored to send a tree to the White House,” Davis said. “To be able to do this for Ashe County, for North Carolina and for the United States is like winning the Super Bowl for a tree farmer.”
Staff from the White House will visit one of River Ridge Farms’ tree fields in Creston on Oct. 21 to select the tree. (Editors: Details regarding the time and exact location of the visit will be provided at a later date.)
Davis has already walked the fields looking for trees that meet the minimum height requirements of 18-and-a-half-feet tall. Several trees in the Creston field are 22- and 23-feet tall, planted around 1985 when Davis and his father-in-law Joe Pennington were just in their second year of business.
Pennington passed away in 2003 and Estes joined the business. Davis said sending one of the farm’s early trees was a fitting tribute to his father-in-law, who Davis said would be proud of the selection.
Davis and Estes manage around a million trees on 500 to 600 acres in Northwest North Carolina and Southwest Virginia. Christmas tree farming takes a great deal of work and patience. After trimming and shaping, the trees typically experience about a foot of growth a year, meaning it takes many years until they are large enough to be harvested.
“This year’s crop is in extremely good shape,” Davis said. “It’s been dry here, but we got rain at the right times, which has helped.”
This marks the first time River Ridge Farms will send a tree to the White House, but it is the second year in a row that an Ashe County tree will make the trip. Mistletoe Meadows in Laurel Springs, owned by Joe and Linda Freeman, sent a Fraser fir in 2007. The National Christmas Tree Association has been selecting a tree to send to the White House since 1966. This is the 11th tree from North Carolina.