Hunting Christmas trees in Cache Valley is all about the experience

Ryan and Shanelle Frandsen with Derrick and Amy Carlsen take time with their families after Thanksgiving to cut trees in the mountains in Franklin County, Idaho

When it comes to buying a fresh green Christmas tree, it’s all about the experience. There are many tree businesses trying to create an atmosphere for the holidays. Here are three options in Cache Valley for buying a live tree.

Tiffany Fransden holds up the tree she selected while Christmas tree hunting in the Franklin County mountains.

One is Adam’s Acres Christmas Tree Farm in Petersboro at 7721 W. UT-30. There is also the Merrill Family Holiday Sales at 1825 North Hwy 89 by the red double-decker bus. And then, there is buying a permit and cutting your own tree down on Forest Service property.

Ryan Frandsen takes his and a friend’s family north to Franklin County, ID, buys a permit and cuts down his Christmas tree after Thanksgiving. They’ve been doing it for about 12 years.

“One of the biggest challenges is finding a good tree. We usually come home with a Charlie Brown tree,” he said. “We might see one that looks good at 50 yards, we get up to it and it doesn’t look so good, so we keep searching.”

Cutting a tree down in the forest is growing in popularity. Frandsen said he saw more people up cutting trees this year than they have in past years.

“We go a couple of days early to buy the permit nowadays because when we’ve gone the same day and tried to buy a permit on our way up, they have been sold out,” he said.  “When that happened we’ve had to go to Montpelier and buy one.”

“It’s not all about getting a tree,” he said.  “We try to make an adventure out of the trip. We buy breakfast somewhere and bring sleds for the smaller kids; they like to go sleigh riding.”

He said it’s all about creating memories.

If you are unable to travel into the backcountry for your tree, but still want the experience of cutting down your own, Adam’s Acres Tree Farm in Petersboro provides that option.

Ten years ago Adam and Sara Burris planted trees for Christmas on their 10 acre farm in Petersboro. Last year they began allowing people to harvest the trees.

This year they are in full swing.

Ten years ago Adam and Sara Burris planted Christmas trees on their 10 acre farm in Petersboro. This is the second year they are allowing people to harvest the trees.

Adam grew up in Smithfield and the family would go to a tree farm and harvest their family Christmas tree every year. He is trying to create a similar experience, allowing families to tag a Christmas tree in October, and then pick it up the day after Thanksgiving.

“This year we’ve had great success,” Sara said. “We want people feeling good about their experience. We have activities for children, like a photo booth for kids. They can stick their heads in some cutouts and have their pictures taken.”

Sara said she thinks people want to be cared about. The Burris family wants customers to have the best experience possible while they cut down their tree. They hand out mints, play music and Santa is on hand.

“We want to create memories,” she said. “Once you have a real tree, you never want to go back to an artificial one. When people are given the experience of cutting their own tree close by, it’s hard to beat.”

She said they are getting positive feedback for their efforts from everyone that has come.

“They are excited and appreciative of what we are trying to do.

“What we don’t sell, we keep for next year and we will try to plant another 500 trees.”

Her husband Adam is a real estate appraiser. This is a weekend job for him and their boys. They have lots of help from their teenage boys.

If finding a live tree in Cache Valley is what you’re looking for, there are as many options as there are places to buy or cut them.

Merrill Family Holiday Sales has one of the largest selections of fresh cut trees in Cache Valley. James Merrill said they are poised to sell 2,500 trees this season and he has already gone to the trouble of finding and cutting down the trees for you. He says his experience and knowledge about tree varieties helps set them apart from other tree lots.

People come here because we have a lot of knowledge about trees,” Merrill said. “We have been selling trees for 26 years.”

Merrill’s has about every kind tree. “With our experience we can help people with which tree will go best in their house.

James Merrill of Merrill Family Holiday Sales said they are poised to sell 2,500 trees this season. He has sold Christmas trees for 26 years.”

“It is different depending on where they want to put it in their house. If you put the tree in the path of the heat or by a cold air return, it can pull the moisture out of the tree. Some trees handle moisture better than others.”

The tree lot has several big blow-up figures, music, and a wood carver to create a holiday atmosphere.

“People come here looking for something and they aren’t sure what they are looking for. Some want the kind of trees their parents had,” he said. “Sometimes they might recognize the smell of the tree. We break the needles on the trees and find a tree with the same scent.”

Merrill said they can usually find what people are looking for. He knows his trees.

“I cut about 30 percent of my trees,” he said. “My biggest thing is tall trees. We have people come from out of the county to find taller trees.”

Merrill cuts about 100 trees a day during the month of November. It’s a lot harder than it looks. But he likes to get a variety of tree types and tree sizes to fit a variety of budgets.

He also gets trees from Montana, Oregon and Washington.

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