Buying Christmas trees during this holiday season might provide some relief to people who are coping with the coronavirus pandemic.
Jessie Davis, the co-owner of the Appalachian Christmas Mountain Farm in Deep Gap, said Saturday that growers in Northwest North Carolina have produced an ample of supply of trees and can meet the demands of their customers.
"There are plenty of trees available, but not an excess amount of trees," Davis said. "That's good for the farmers and for the customers."
Christmas-tree lots are outdoors, providing fresh air and social distancing for their employees and customers.
"With COVID-19, we are trying to provide people an outlet to come to," Davis said. "We want people to have an enjoyable experience with their family. That's the true meaning of Christmas."
The Appalachian Christmas Mountain Farm has Fraser firs, and those trees cost $10 to $12 per foot, Davis said. For example, a 6-foot tree would cost about $60.
Saturday was a busy time in Watauga and Ashe counties. As people traveled to the area to buy trees, hundreds of cars could be seen traveling the roads in and around the various Christmas tree lots with trees strapped to the top.
At one tree farm, traffic was backed up and the employees directing traffic said the line would be up to an hour long before getting to the farm.
North Carolina has about 1,300 growers producing Christmas trees on nearly 40,000 acres, according to the N.C. Christmas Tree Association. The Fraser fir is grown in Western North Carolina, including Alleghany, Ashe and Watauga counties.
North Carolina is the second leading Christmas tree producer in the United States, according to the Christmas-tree research program at N.C. State University.
Joe Freeman, the owner of Mistletoe Meadows in Laurel Springs in Ashe County, said nearly 1,600 people visited his farm on both Friday and Saturday to buy his supply of Christmas trees.
"We are really busy," Freeman said. "It's been a good season."
The trees range in size from 2 feet to 16 feet, he said. Each tree costs between $65 to $80.
Amid the pandemic, the customers wore masks as they walked around his trees, Freeman said.
"Everyone is trying to stay safe and have a good time," Freeman said.
At the tree farms on Saturday, nearly every family took selfies with their trees before flagging down an employee to cut the tree with a chainsaw. Some vehicles headed down the mountain had two and three trees strapped to the roof.
There were also several commercial trucks with trailers loaded to the hilt with hundreds of trees, presumably headed for tree lots.
Ron Rash provided about 200 Fraser firs to a steady stream of customers Saturday in a lot at the Coffee Park Airstream at 1206 Reynolda Road in Winston-Salem.
The trees are from his property, Rash's Tree Farm in West Jefferson in Ashe County. Prices ranged from $25 to $160 per tree.
"People are buying trees this weekend to get into the spirit of Christmas with everything that is happening around us," Rash said.
Kia Chavis of Winston-Salem was among the customers to visit Rash's tree lot.
"It's a tradition to buy a tree and get a little holiday cheer," Chavis said.
Walt Unks contributed to this story