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Giving Back: A Christmas Season of Stories

Third Annual Granite County Festival of Trees

While we are just finished decking our halls for the upcoming holiday celebrations, we’ve been in the Christmas spirit for over a month.

Sunset at the Buckle Barn before the 2016 Granite County Festival of Trees - hosting is one of the ways we're giving back to the communityThe sun sets before the Gala Auction. Look closely and you’ll see the Christmas trees glowing inside the Buckle Barn. Photo by Rancher Katie Forbes.

On November 11 and 12, we hosted the Granite County Festival of Trees for the second year in a row. The Festival has become a tradition for The Ranch—we’ve been a sponsor for three years. We joined 18 other regional sponsors in supporting this year’s event. Read about last year’s Mystical Mountain Christmas and the first annual event.

Hands go up as people bid on trees during the Granite County Festival of Trees, one of The Ranch at Rock Creek's giving initiatives
A scene from the live auction. The event filled the Buckle Barn. 

This wonderful event serves so many purposes. It supports local healthcare initiatives through the non-profit Granite County Medical Foundation. It showcases the incredible artistic talent we have in a community with only 3,000 residents. Lastly, it allows the community to come together and unite for a worthy cause. This year, the Festival raised over $36,000.


Shopping, Eating and Giving Locally

One of the ways that we try to remain sustainable in our community is to use local producers and vendors. Our pantry is stocked with local meats and produce, and our Mercantile is filled with local artisans and vendors. When we give, we also try to put our money back into the community that supports us.

A guest enjoys the impressive buffet of hors d'oeuvres during the 2015 Granite County Festival of Trees

Living in a small community, you rely on your friends and neighbors. In a county that spans hundreds of miles, your neighbors are a safety net. This is one of the reasons we support giving annually to this cause. Our access to medical services allows us to safely navigate our beautiful, secluded terrain. In addition to being the angel sponsor for this event, many of our employees volunteer their spare time to emergency services across Granite County.

A skier navigates the beautiful runs between snowcapped trees at Montana's Discovery Ski Area. Skiing through Southwest Montana’s woodlands at Discovery Ski Area. 

Several of our employees are on the Valley Volunteer Fire Department and the Discovery Ski Patrol. Now that Discovery Ski Area has opened for the season, we feel safer knowing these expert skiers are helping to make the mountain safer. These same Ranchers also serve as our Ski Concierges each winter, making sure our guests enjoy the best and safest skiing opportunities, customized for their preferences.

An handmade ornament that reads "Montana: Home Sweet Home" from the Grassroots tree at the Granite County Festival of Trees
An ornament from the “Philipsburg’s 150-Year Old Story Tree,” designed by Grassroots shop. The tree honored our town’s upcoming sesquicentennial.

It’s at the end of the year that people often look for ways to give, and local causes always stay at the top of our list. This year we implemented a Community Support Form to make it easier for local organizations and non-profits to approach us for giving opportunities. For an entire list of the local causes we support, visit our Giving Back page.


A Season of Stories

We love that the Granite County Medical Foundation picked “A Season of Stories” for their 2016 event, because our Buckle Barn turned into a library of Christmas tales, from “A Visit from St. Nicholas” to “The Grinch” to “The Great Gats-Tree.” Some trees illustrated personal stories, others were books, poems and songs that make up the collective Christmas experience.

A River Runs Through It adorned the "Norman" tree by the Cabin Creek Sisters at the 2016 Granite County Festival of Trees
A detail of the “Norman” tree, designed by the Cabin Creek Sisters. This tree was a fishing snowman that paid homage to Montana author Norman Maclean and his fly fishing masterpiece, A River Runs Through It.

Our Buckle Barn glittered with Christmas lights. While we traditionally decorate the Great Hall with a great big tree, there is something extra special about having it filled wall-to-wall with Christmas trees. See all the trees on the Granite County Medical Foundation’s Facebook page. 

Hosting the Granite County Festival of Trees is one of our giving initiatives that supports local healthcare


Our Story, The Mitten

In addition to providing staff, set up and group coordination services, a small group of Ranch employees and friends served as decorators for the event. We chose Jan Brett’s children’s book, The Mitten, as our inspiration. The Mitten is based on an Ukrainian folktale about a little boy who asks his grandmother for white mittens. Although she knows he will lose them in the snow, in the spirit of giving, she grants his winter wish. When he inevitably loses one, the forest animals find the mitten and burrow inside to stay warm.

Handmade mitten ornaments are stacked before they adorned our "The Mitten" themed tree

Our tree description read, “Like this sweet and funny tale, our tree celebrates the wonder of winter and the magical dance we do with the wild creatures that live in the forest. Join us in honoring spectacular Western Montana, where we can immerse ourselves in nature’s beauty and be inspired by woodland creatures big and small.”

Ranchers Elsa and Ashleygiving our tree the finishing touches before the 2016 Granite County Festival of TreesGranite Spa Esthetician Elsa Janney and Groups and Events Coordinator Ashley Atkinson put the finishing touches on our tree during Decorator’s Night.

Our team made some of the ornaments at home, and we gathered together to make others. Thanks to all our team members, Christina Wernikowski, Ashley Atkinson, Kate DeMello, Mindy Avila, Elsa Janney, Tyler Ramsey and Heather Rue, for giving their energy, creativity and time to shape our woodland tree.

The Ranch at Rock Creek decorating team handmade ornaments of woodland creatures.

We especially enjoyed the Decorator’s Night on Friday where the 16 teams gathered together to create their trees. The residents from the Granite County Medical Center long-term care facility joined us and dined on a dinner of chili, homemade chips with queso, cookies, tea and Philipsburg Brewing Company beer.

Our Mitten-themed tree and its creators at the 2016 Granite County Festival of Trees Our Mitten Tree. Morning Service Supervisor Kate DeMello and Lead Esthetician Elsa Janney admire at our completed tree. 


The Gala Auction

During Saturday’s Gala Auction, our tree was auctioned off with a dinner for six in the Granite Lodge. We look forward to welcoming the owners of this tree and their friends to The Ranch soon.

The Festival of Trees live auction raised over $20,000, giving the Granite County Medical Foundation funding for their 2017 initiatives.
A peek at the Buckle Barn during the live auction. In one hour, 16 trees raised over $20,000 for the Granite County Medical Foundation.

After the live auction, The Ranch’s executive team matched the bid for the tree, doubling the donation to the Granite County Medical Foundation.
Ranchers Mariah and Tyler enjoy the festivities during the 2016 Granite County Festival of Trees Rod & Gun Club’s Lead Activities Coordinator, Mariah Driscoll and Mercantile Associate Tyler Ramsey enjoy the festivities at the Gala Auction.

We look forward to being involved in the 2017 event, and with positive initiatives that support our friends and neighbors. We wish everyone in our community, both local and global, the merriest holiday season.

An ornament from the Twas the Night Before Christmas tree at the Granite County Festival of Trees

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest to see how our country Christmas unfolds. There are so many reasons to celebrate when the snow falls. Join us in the new year for our Frost & Fire Winter Celebration!


Most photos provided courtesy of the Granite County Medical Foundation and Heritage Photo.