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K-State Research and Extension
123 Umberger Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506-3401

December 8, 2015

Christmas Comes to the Governor’s Mansion at Cedar Crest

Submitted by Jennifer Williams

Gov. Sam Brownback rides in with the official Christmas tree.

A team of two beautiful black Percheron draft horses named “Bill” and “Buck,” driven by Robin Dunn of Dunn’s Landing from Wellsville, Kansas, delivered the governor’s tree and wreath for 2015. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback hitched a ride on the wagon up to the governor’s mansion, where he was presented with the tree and wreath by state forester Larry Biles and district forester Dave Bruton, both with the Kansas Forest Service at Kansas State University.

Bruton, the northeast Kansas district forester, mentioned that many underestimate what it takes to plant, grow and harvest trees.

“A lot of people think you can plant a tree and go out and harvest it the next year,” Bruton said. “These Christmas tree growers are putting a lot of effort into it. A tree 6 or 7 feet tall – what a lot of people like for their houses – typically takes eight to nine years (to grow).”

This year, the governor’s mansion at Cedar Crest will be festooned with a beautiful 8-foot Scotch pine Christmas tree, donated by Strawberry Hill Christmas Tree Farm owners Eric and Lyn Walther. Strawberry Hill Christmas Tree Farm is located on the old Oregon Trail in Lawrence, Kansas, and is celebrating 31 years in the business this year.

On a trip to Strawberry Hill Christmas Tree Farm, you can take a free hayride, sip hot spiced cider and stroll through the beautiful property while searching for your own unique tree. Arts and crafts, as well as wreaths and centerpieces, are also available for sale on the premises.

Dennis and Brenda Yarnall of Cardinal Creek Farm in Leon, Kansas, donated the festive wreath that will adorn the mansion’s front door this year. Located just outside of Wichita, Cardinal Creek Farm offers a whimsical winter playground full of nostalgic charm and provides a variety of family-friendly activities, including ice-skating and a snowball toss. Santa even makes himself available for gift requests and pictures on Saturday afternoons.

Several Christmas tree growers in Kansas support the Trees for Troops program, where Christmas tree growers across the country donate trees that are delivered to military bases for distribution, free of charge, to military families.

Harry Peckham helps coordinate the efforts in Kansas. He uses the gathering of Christmas tree growers at Cedar Crest during delivery of the governor's Christmas tree every year as an opportunity to collect trees from donors. This year was no different, and Peckham stacked up many donated trees to take to his collection site.