The premier social event each year in Collinsville is also the premier fundraising event.
For 20 years, people have put on their finest clothes and mingled with friends and community leaders at the annual Festival of Trees, while raising more than $500,000 for local charities. More than $30,000 was raised in 2013 for Collinsville Charities for Children. The Irving Dilliard Memorial Literacy Program for the Collinsville Unit 10 School District is hoping for similar love from the community.
The Festival of Trees is an adult-only gala with live music, hors d’oeuvres, cocktails and deserts. Attendees can bid on decorated artificial trees, centerpieces, wreaths and tablescapes. Arrangements are made the night of the event for the delivery of trees to the home of the highest bidders.
Started in 1993 with a few hundred attendees, 700-800 people now regularly attend the annual festival. Attendees this year will assist the Unit 10 literacy program named after one of Collinsville’s leading citizens.
Irving Dilliard was born in 1899 and raised in Collinsville. He went on to become a writer and editor for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He was a psychological warfare specialist on Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s staff in World War II and later taught for 10 years as a Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University.
In his lifetime, the proud Collinsville resident wrote thousands of editorials, essays, articles and several books. He was a respected expert on the Constitution and the Supreme Court.
In 2001, Dilliard bought the historic D.D. Collins House and donated it to the City. The fountain in front of the Collinsville Township office, at 307 E. Main St., is dedicated in his honor. Dilliard died in 2002. The Irving Dilliard Memorial Literacy Program was created in 2013.
Tickets for the 2014 Festival of Trees can be purchased by completing the form at: http://www.gatewaycenter.com/old/images/docs/2014fotsponsorship.pdf. The brochures are also available at several local businesses and at the Collinsville Convention Center. Tickets can be purchase until the day of the event, Dec. 3. Payment is cash or check.
The 21st Festival of Trees will be from 6-9 p.m., Wednesday Dec. 3 at the Gateway Center.