By John Raby
A quarter-century ago, Janet Fewell’s son bought a small evergreen to replace one that had outgrown the space in front of her Winfield home.
It’s time to find another replacement.
The Fewell family has donated its 25-foot Blue Spruce as one of three trees that will be used for holiday displays this year at the state Capitol complex in Charleston.
“It was our pleasure to donate it,” Fewell said.
A lighting ceremony will be held Dec. 6 as part of the annual Joyful Night celebration.
Every year, the Fewell family and neighbors had decorated the Blue Spruce during the holidays.
“It was a tree my son had brought home to me in a bucket about 25 years ago,” Fewell said. “I planted it and it just kept growing.
“I babied it. I sprayed it every year to make sure worms didn’t get on it. I took care if it every year.”
So much so that her husband, Ray, quipped that the tree his wife had become attached to was growing too much.
Sure enough, it eventually got too big for the space in their yard.
Several years ago, Fewell had heard about a friend who wanted to donate a tree for the state’s use during the holidays, so she called the state last year and was eventually was told their tree indeed was a candidate.
But somewhere in state government’s transition from Joe Manchin to Earl Ray Tomblin as governor in November 2011, the Blue Spruce got lost in the shuffle.
“They called me and said, ‘if you wouldn’t mind keeping it one more year, we’ll take it,” Fewell said.
The promise was kept and crews arrived to cut down the tree last week.
“I kind of hated to cut it,” she said. “You know how that happens.”
And thus, the rite of evergreen planting will likely start anew at the Fewell home.
“I’ll probably get another one,” Fewell said.
State Department of Administration spokeswoman Diane Holley-Brown said the Fewells’ tree will be used around the north fountain at the Capitol.
The other two trees came from Crickmer Farms in the Fayette County community of Danese. A 25-foot Canaan Fir will be lit at the south fountain, and a 14-foot Canaan Fir will be decorated at the governor’s mansion, Holley-Brown said.
The farm has been in operation since 1978. Al Tolliver and his wife took over the farm six years ago.
“We decided we wanted something to keep us busy and we were interested in it,” Tolliver said. “It’s turned into something more than a hobby.”
About 40 of the farm’s 70 acres are dedicated to Christmas trees and Tolliver estimates there are 2,000 to 3,000 of them, mostly Frasier Firs. Families can stop by to cut their own for holiday use starting the first weekend of December.
Tolliver’s farm also donated a tree that was used at the governor’s mansion last year.
“They seemed to be happy with the tree they received last year, which is good,” Tolliver said. “We’re very pleased we’re in position to provide the size and quality of trees that they’re looking for.”