HOLLINS, Ala. – As you drive down Goodwater Hwy. you cannot miss the signs. In every curve and at every turn you get directed as you approach Christmas in Dixie Tree Farm.
As you follow the signs and turn down Bull Gap Rd., the feeling that you are lost will start to sink in your mind. The ride might be a little bumpy on the old Coosa County roads, but once you reach the red gates it will be worth it.
You might be thinking: “I already have an artificial tree with lights already attached, and the real ones are just too much work.”
But maybe, in 2016, you feel different.
Maybe, just maybe if you visited John Williams’ tree farm you might even make it a Christmas family tradition, like many others.
“We’ve been out here for 32 years,” said Williams.”And we’ve had people that come out every single year.”
The Iddon’s are just one of those families that come out every single year. In fact, John and Judy have made the journey down Bull Gap Road for the last 20 years. “This is the only tree farm that we’ve ever been to,” said John. “We enjoy the trip out here and we look forward to working a day out and coming to get our tree.”
What has kept the Iddons and many other families coming back to the farm that Williams has owned and operated for the last 32 years?
According to Williams it is the environment that keeps his customers returning for more. He said he prides himself on the fact that his facility family friendly and is not “too fancy.”
So what is that environment like?
When SylacaugaNews.com arrived to talk to Williams, he was sitting back waiting for customers by a nice warm fire that made his rustic barn feel like home. Williams said he invites all customers to come sit by the fire and talk, especially during the week when business is a little slower than normal.
That is just during the week.
The weekends however are a different story.
They are busy according to Williams. So when more people come in, he does more for everyone, including the kids. He said he sells hot chocolate and even lets Santa Clause make an appearance for the children.
When customers first arrive on the farm, Williams said he hands out a saw and lets them do the rest.
That includes cutting down the tree. He said he will come cut the tree if asked but he feels like many customers enjoy the nostalgia and tradition that comes from dropping their own tree to the ground.
For the Iddons, Williams went out and did that dirty work.
After cutting the tree, it was drug back to the barn where all the loose needles were disposed. Then the tree is pulled through netting and ready for the ride home.
It might sound simple to pick out a tree but there are a lot of variables that come into play when picking out the right one for your home. “You have to have the right height, width, straightness, and color,” said Williams.
What is the fascination with a real Christmas tree?
The Iddons said it is not about the tree itself, but about what happens after they get the tree home. They said they love the smell of a fresh Leyland when it fills their home, and they have a family tradition of letting their daughter do all the decorating.
Many seem to make finding the perfect tree a family event.
“We have a lot of families that come out every year,” said Williams. ” A lot of times there will be 11 or 12 people to a family to get one tree and they have a good time.”
The chances to bring your family out to Christmas in Dixie could be dwindling. Williams said he has debated closing the farm down the last few years. In his older age, the farm is becoming a lot more work, but every year he brings it back because he loves to help people find the perfect tree.
If he decides to close the farm, Williams plans on traveling and relaxing. For now, he plans on continuing being a part of many family traditions.
Jeremy Law for SylacaugaNews.com | © 2016, SylacaugaNews.com/Marble City Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.