JEFFERSON, NC (WJZY) – In Baseball it’s the Yankees. Football, the Patriots. Basketball, you have the Lakers or Celtics. But when it comes to growing Christmas trees for the White House, North Carolina is something of a dynasty, sending 14 to the White House — and eight of them from Ashe County alone.
So what’s the secret?
“Fraser Fir,” said Jennifer Greene, the executive director of the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association. “It’s native to the area and we have some of the best growers in the nation.”
According to Greene, they have beautiful colors, a great smell, and strong branches to hold ornaments.
When it comes to growing them, two of the best are the dynamic father-and-son duo of Rusty and Beau Estes, the owners of Peak Farms in Jefferson, North Carolina, and the winners of the 2021 contest.
It’s the third time they’ve won the honor of sending a tree to the White House, but they remain humble, chalking up their success more to the land they grow their trees on.
“We got good ground to work with, good elevation, good climate, everything,” said Rusty Estes.
But winning the national contest is just part of it. After that, the White House gets involved, sending in their Grounds Superintendent Dale Haley in to make the final pick
“We got to get the right height,” Haley said. “We got to have at least 18 feet so we can tie it right off to the ceiling.”
Haley is particular, but for good reason. On Tuesday he searched for hours with the Estes’ as they looked over roughly 30 trees. By Wednesday they had it narrowed down to four, and then finally a winner.
“We came down to the one that was the fullest, no holes, the smell, it’s holding its needles, it’s got a great color,” Haley said.
Now that the tree has been selected, it will stay on the farm until the middle of November when it will be cut down and sent to Washington D.C.