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San Joaquin County Historical Museum celebrates Christmas with Festival of Trees
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LODI — The San Joaquin County Historical Museum will deck all the halls for this year’s 20th annual Festival of Trees.

This family event launches the holiday season on Saturday, Dec. 3, and Sunday, Dec. 4, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the museum located at Micke Grove Park south of Lodi about one mile west of Highway 99 and south of Armstrong Road.

Docents dressed in vintage Victorian and pioneer clothes will make those attending feel as though they have stopped back in time to celebrate Christmas.

The museum’s seven exhibit buildings will be brimming with more than 70 uniquely festive trees, each decorated according to a unique theme by different individuals and groups from throughout San Joaquin County. Stockton founder Charles Weber’s historic cottage is only open once a year and that is during the Festival of Trees.

The festival also features charming Christmas exhibits, entertainment and an extensive model train layout set up just for the event. There will be many activities including vintage craft demonstrations like woodturning and wool spinning. Vendors will be on hand selling homemade soaps, antique buttons and jewelry.

For children, there will be many hands-on activities including decorating cookies, making cornhusk dolls, dipped candles, and punched tin ornaments. There is a nominal fee of $1 to $3 for children to make the crafts. Children also will be able to visit Santa and Mrs. Claus and families can purchase photographs of their children with Santa.

Entertainment will be held throughout the festival. The Stockton Portsmen Quartet will roam the museum grounds singing Christmas songs both days from noon 2 p.m. On Saturday, Ethel Neufeld will play the antique foot-powered pump organ in the Erickson Building at 10 a.m. Tots for Tap will perform at 11 a.m. The afternoon entertainment includes the San Joaquin Brass Quintet, the Unique Vision Dance Troop and the White Hackle Pipe Band playing their Scottish bagpipes. On Sunday, entertainers include the Frisky Flutes at 11 a.m. following by the Cesar Chavez High School Saxes at 1 p.m. and the Lodi Sikh Temple performing at 2 p.m.

As a special treat for children, there will be storytelling in the museum’s print shop both days.

Also both days, visitors will be able to rest their weary feet and enjoy riding around the museum grounds on a trackless train.

Food including tri-tip sandwiches, chili, bake potatoes or hot dogs and drinks will be available for purchase.

In addition to all the holiday festivities and decorated trees, visitors will enjoy the museum’s historical exhibits. The county museum features one of the largest collections of tractors, agriculture equipment and tools west of the Mississippi.

General admission tickets are $8 and $1 for children 2 to 10 years old. Children under 2 are admitted free. Tickets may be purchased at the event or in advance at the Music Box in Stockton and Lodi or by calling the museum at (209) 331-2055 or 953-3460. By getting tickets in advance, the $5 parking fee into Micke Grove Park is waived.

Festival of Trees is the museum Docent Council’s fundraiser of the year. The funds raised at this event support the youth education programs including Valley Days and Pioneer School. More than 100 San Joaquin County classes of third and fourth graders participate in these two living history museum programs each year where children experience 1880s pioneer life. Other education programs operated throughout the year include Farm to Fork for pre-schoolers to second-graders, museum tours and classroom visits by docents who explain the historic contents of “Grandmother’s Trunk.”