N.C. Christmas trees selected for White House

Russell and Beau Estes, owners of Peak Farms in Jefferson, pose with their Grand Champion Christmas tree. Peak Farms will provide the official 2012 White House Christmas Tree. Photo credit: N.C. Christmas Tree Association

Out of millions of Christmas trees grown across the country, only one can be selected to be displayed in the Blue Room of the White House during the Christmas season. This year, that honor will go to a tree from North Carolina.

A blue spruce grown by Russell and Beau Estes of Jefferson earned them the right to provide the official 2012 White House Christmas Tree. The father-and-son team, owners of Peak Farm, were named Grand Champion for the blue spruce in the National Christmas Tree Association‘s 2012 National Christmas Tree Contest. Since 1966, NCTA members have presented the official Christmas tree for display in the White House Blue Room.

Paul Smith, owner of Cool Springs Nursery of Banner Elk, was selected as the Reserve Champion with a Fraser fir. Traditionally, the Reserve Champion provides the Christmas tree for the vice president’s residence. (Read more about how our Marketing Division is helping Cool Springs Nursery and other N.C. Christmas tree growers market their products around the world.)

“The fact that two growers were selected from North Carolina for such a prestigious honor speaks a lot about the quality trees that make up the state’s $85 million Christmas tree industry,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler.

In order to compete in the national NCTA contest, each contestant needs to win a state or regional competition in the previous year. Trees have to fit into one of five species categories: True Fir, Douglas-fir, Spruce, Pine or Other. Final entries are judged by a panel of long time growers, past winners, NCTA convention attendees and consumer judges.

Estes is no stranger to the competition, having won the contest in 2008 along with Jessie Davis of River Ridge Farms in Crumpler. Despite his experience on the national stage, Estes says winning this time is different.

“Winning this year is a different kind of exciting because this is an ‘all in the family’ type of farm,” said Russell Estes. “Both my son and daughter and all my grandkids live here at Peak Farms, and that makes this business and winning the contest this year extra special.”

Russell Estes first planted Christmas trees in 1979 on a very small plot of land as a hobby. By 1993, he moved his family to Ashe County, bought a larger farm and moved into growing Christmas trees full time. Today, Peak Farms grows about 300,000 trees.

In October, White House staff members will visit Peak Farms to select the official tree that will serve as the centerpiece of the Blue Room holiday decorations. The selected tree will be cut and presented to the first lady shortly after Thanksgiving.

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