Christmas tree growers converge on Allegan County for annual contest, convention

ALLEGAN, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - It's Christmas in July for Allegan County Friday night.

The reason? The National Christmas Tree Association has chosen Allegan for its annual contest and convention.

Tree growers from across the country are gathering at Peterson's Riverview Nursery, competing for the top prize: a chance to shine in the White House come Christmas.

When it comes to Christmas trees, it really doesn't get any bigger than this.

The prize-winning grower will get one of their trees in the White House.

And now, twelve trees are in Allgean waiting for the most important decoration of all--a ribbon declaring it Grand Champion.

Growers from across the country are entering their best, after winning regional or state competitions.

But the holiday cheer goes far beyond Allegan County.

"If you win that contest, you get to present the tree that goes in the Blue Room of the White House, and present the tree to the First Lady," explained Rex Korson, with Korson's Tree Farm. "To us, it's the pinnacle."

Korston looked through 50,000 trees in his Montcalm County farm to find a perfect spruce.

"Cut the tree this morning, so try to keep it as fresh as possible," he said.

Industry experts look the trees over, and determine finalists. Then, growers and the general public can peruse the pines.

"They will vote for their favorite among the four species finalists," explained Rick Dungey with the National Christmas Tree Association. "That's how we'll determine overall Grand Champion."

Sadly, a Christmas dream didn't come true for our grower from West Michigan, as Korson was cut in the first round.

But they still expect a bright season ahead.

"Great experience," Korson said. "It's a symbol you're a high-quality grower, can produce high quality trees."

The Grand Champion will be announced Saturday morning.