Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Kennedy Krieger Institute Festival of Trees Review

At the Festival of Trees
Sunday, we bundled up and headed off to the annual Kennedy Kreiger Institute Festival of Trees. It had been over ten years since we went to the festival and I was amazed at how it has grown from a Christmas Tree focused event into a major commercial undertaking where viewing the trees is almost secondary to the sales and activities. I was not fully prepared for the blatant commercialization that confronted me after paying my $13 admission charge to enter the event, now held in the Cow Palace at the State Fair Grounds. 
The Gambler's Christmas Tree

Yes there were Christmas trees--and perhaps there were a lot of them clustered around the gigantic Cow Palace for me to enjoy. And I did. There were come very unique trees that delighted my imagination and the imaginations of my grandsons who accompanied me. But, the event is huge and almost unruly and out of control. 
Oriole Ornament made from Crab Shell

There were numerous vendors selling every variety of item imaginable and it seemed that they were the real reason for the season. The Christmas trees were clumped into manageable sections, but their glitter and creativity was overshadowed by the glitz and activity surrounding them.
Accompanying Decoration

As it was the third day of the event, most of the trees were sold, not that I would buy one. I found most of the trees on display to be sparsely decorated and lacking depth. There were a few outstanding one, but only a very few. 

The City of Baltimore Tree

I found the accompanying decorations around one tree to be very interesting. I was taken away to my personal beach by it. However, the thought of going to Tijuana for Christmas is not appealing in any way. 

The highlight of the event for me was the model railroad display which was huge. I could have sat and watched the trains for hours even though they just go around on the track. They were fun to watch and took me back to my childhood.

RECOMMENDATION: Sadly, I cannot recommend this event in the future. It has lost focus, becoming another overly commercialized Christmas-themed venture by a well meaning not-for-profit institute. The $13 adult admission and $7 child admission seems high. There is a lot to do once inside and many places and ways to spend money, but to call it a Festival of Trees is really stretching the point--a lot.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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