Thursday was a day for thanks, family, friends and food here in Kilgore. On Friday, it was time to begin the hunt for the perfect Christmas tree.
Danville Farms opened bright and early at 9 a.m. Friday, Nov. 29, to allow in dozens of folks searching for the signature Christmas decoration. A fire was burning in a fire pit, guests were sipping hot chocolate from the Snack Shack and families large and small were roaming nearby fields, saws in hand, to take home this year’s holiday centerpiece from the farm at 2000 Danville Rd.
Kathy Adams, daughter of Danville Farms founders James and Mary Robinson, was working at the farm’s shop Friday. She said trees and other items were being sold at “a good, brisk pace” by 9:30 Friday morning, noting the parking lot was already mostly full.
“We’re expecting to sell a lot of trees today,” Adams said.
“This is typically a big day. We weren’t sure about how the weather was going to turn out but it’s been good. We’ve had a lot of interaction with people on Facebook and we’re expecting to be pretty busy. It builds and builds and around 2 in the afternoon, we are swamped but it’s a lot of fun for us.”
Her mother Mary, sitting nearby making wreaths by hand for customers, said this year, Christmas tree shoppers would have a better chance of picking up a prize Virgina pine or Fraser fir.
“A lady called this morning and said ‘Now, I’m assuming, since yesterday was Thanksgiving, you still have some trees left?’ Because last year, we sold out really fast,” Robinson said.
Adams agreed, noting the farm had about 300 more trees for sale compared to last year.
“Maybe we’ll sell out in six days instead of five this year!” she laughed.
In addition to a Christmas tree, customers can also pick up accessories, including handmade wreaths, floor protectors, Christmas ornaments, t-shirts, tree food to extend the life of the tree and even watering funnels to keep a tree hydrated without bending over.
“We try to have everything available that you need for your tree,” Adams said.
“We try to educate people if they’ve never bought a real tree before. We walk them through the things that they need and we make fresh wreaths. Trees that aren’t the prettiest get turned into wreaths. We try to use as much of it as we can. Every day, we sell a good number of those.”
Adams said Danville Farms is a family operation, with her parents growing the trees and her in-laws running the Snack Shack, where customers can pick up a warm drink or a snack.
“Some people want to come and spend several hours. You know, a lot of people come from bigger cities and they just love the farm experience. They’ll make a day of it, drive over and they can even have a hot dog for lunch. We’ve got a little playground. People take their Christmas card pictures out here. It’s a fun family experience.”
Danville Farms was established in 1982 and began selling trees in 1986, Adams said. She’d already met one customer Friday morning who said he’d never missed a year shopping for trees since they first opened.
The farm opened for business from humble beginnings, with a single table set up beneath a 50-foot pine tree and a measuring stick on the ground for measuring trees for sale. Now, the farm has come a long way, with a playground, hot food and drinks, debit card readers and electricity.
“I guess I was maybe 15 the first year that we opened the farm. I have a sixteen-year-old now. So, over the years, we’re now on the third generation of helping out here. We just love that our kids are learning work ethic and the value of a dollar and customer service. There’s three of us girls and we each have two or three kids out here working,” Adams said.
“This is Christmas to us.”