Ashe County farmer will supply White House with Christmas tree
By John Hinton
Published August 24, 2012 for Winston-Salem Journal
The National Christmas Tree Association has awarded the title of grand champion to an Ashe County farmer and his son for growing a blue spruce tree, giving them the honor of presenting the official White House Christmas Tree for 2012.
Russell and Beau Estes, owners of Peak Farms in Jefferson, will offer a Fraser fir to first lady Michelle Obama in December, the association said in a statement.
"It's just the highest honor I can get," Russell Estes said. "Words can't describe it. It's not only good for our farm, but it is good for all of the farmers in Ashe County."
This isn't the first time Russell Estes has won the honor. In 2008, before he started his own farm, he and business partner Jessie Davis, the owner of River Ridge Tree Farms in Ashe County, presented a 20-foot Fraser fir as the official White House Christmas tree to first lady Laura Bush.
Cline Church, the association's president, said the Christmas tree industry is proud of Russell and Beau Estes.
"The fact that an American farmer gets to provide a Christmas tree from his family farm to be displayed in the White House indicates just how important a farm-grown Christmas tree is to the traditions of our country," Church said.
Paul Smith, owner of Cool Springs Nursery in Banner Elk, was selected as the reserve champion with a Fraser fir. Reserve champion winners traditionally have provided a tree to the vice president's home.
Smith said he was happy to receive the award.
"It's an indication that we are good growers, and we know how to produce good specimens," Smith said.
The trees were selected for the recognition Aug. 10 at the association annual convention and trade show in Sacramento, Calif.