By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – If you need to get in the holiday mood, head over to your State House where the halls have just been decked and it sure smells great.
It is a particularly good time of year to visit the people’s house where you can stop by the visitors center and pick up New Hampshire ornaments for your own Christmas tree or buy a necktie for your uncle who misses New Hampshire now that he lives in Florida.
Virginia Drew, director of State House Visitors Center, said there is a festive mood of goodwill and hope for the coming year happening around her.
“We are gearing up for what will be another wonderful holiday season at the State House,” Drew said.
She encouraged people to come and “take a slower pace” to the holidays, and visit the various chambers which are also decorated with natural boughs from trees across the state.
People who come, she said, are “assaulted by the beauty and the smells of Christmas.”
She noted that in addition to the large tree on the State House lawn, they will soon have a Jewish Menorah. “We celebrate all the different parts of the holiday season at the State House.”
Last week, the state received a gift from the New Hampshire Christmas Tree growers, through the New Hampshire Christmas Tree Promotion Board.
As part of the New Hampshire/Vermont Christmas Tree Association, the state was given trees for “official” holiday decorating. The trees are also provided for the Bridges House in East Concord, which will be a site for official functions in Concord.
In the Hall of Flags, there are ten 30-inch wide wreaths hanging on all of the stately pillars bringing the fragrant smell of state’s balsam woods to life.
Up in the Executive Council chamber, a gorgeous balsam fir has been placed in the corner near the state and American flag and it is now encircled by poinsettias. The tree has been decorated with colored lights and ornaments donated by visiting schoolchildren.
This year, the official state holiday trees come from the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests’ Christmas Tree Farm at the Rocks in Bethlehem.
The 1,400-acre Rocks Estate was gifted to the Forest Society in 1978 by the family of the original owners, International Harvester co-founder John Glessner and his wife, Frances, who acquired the property in 1882 for a summer home.
When giving the farm to the Forest Society, the family made the stipulation that a crop always be maintained in the fields. That crop for more than 30 years has been Christmas trees and today there are more than 40,000 trees grown on the farm.
You, too, can get your Christmas trees there. The organization has cut-your-own as well as pre-cut options. Or take a horse-drawn hayride through the fields, enjoy some caroling and other events to get you in the holiday spirit.
The Rocks is also home to the NH Maple Experience Museum. Maple syrup is produced on the farm and maple production is part of the educational programming.
The New Hampshire Christmas tree industry is valued at over $3 million annually and represents nearly 200 tree growing operations of all sizes.
For more information on how to get your farm-fresh New Hampshire tree, like the one at the State House, visit www.agriculture.nh.gov, or visit the NH Christmas Tree Promotion Board website www.nhchristmastrees.com.