WAKARUSA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Thanksgiving holiday marks the start of the Christmas season - an occasion families often make official by putting up a Christmas tree.
Trey Dewitt, his wife Jennifer and their daughter Ava decided this year they would forgo the plastic type in favor of a fresh one.
They came out to Country Christmas Trees in Wakarusa, seeking not only a Christmas conifer, but a family experience.
"[For] the family bonding," Dewitt said. "We're all brought together, get to spend some time together on a nice Sunday afternoon and have a good time."
At the farm, families get to get to choose their own among thousands of scotch pines of all sizes, cut the tree themselves, have it shaken and netted, before they take it home.
Families strolled the farm, which covers some 3000 acres, looking for the perfect fit.
The hardest part about cutting your own tree, it seemed, was finding one that every family member could agree on.
Country Christmas Trees co-owners Eldon and Marlene Clawson say the most common mistake people make is selecting one that doesn't fit their living room. Besides that, there isn't much else you can do wrong when you harvest your own tree.
"The live tree is more aromatic," Eldon Clawson, who is also president of the Kansas Christmas Tree Growers Association, said. "A lot of our customers are people that feel good about nature. They like to come out and be part of nature, select a live tree. Obviously you can't do that with an artificial tree, you're gonna be in a store," he said.
Clawson said the dry summer was hard on growers. He and wife Marlene had to constantly tend to their crop.
"It was a tough, hot summer. We started noticing some of the trees starting to die. So we poured water to them all through summer with a hose," he said. "Therefore they actually have come around and are looking better this fall than they would in a regular year because they've had all this water."
Clawson said with those efforts, his farm lost less than one percent of their trees to the drought.
Customers young and old say they appreciate the care that goes into these scotch pines.
"We have another plastic tree at home and we just like real trees better than the fake ones," 10-year-old Peyton Proffitt said during her visit to the farm. "It's an actual Christmas tree, instead of a fake one."
A 14-foot scotch pine from the Country Christmas Tree farm was selected for the Statehouse this year. It'll be lit in a ceremony this Friday.
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