2016-12-08 / Columns

A Family Christmas Tree Tradition

All About The Town


By Betty Browning By Betty Browning For many, artificial Christmas trees have become very popular over the years, but how many people still get a real tree for the holiday season?

To find this out, I visited two of the local tree markets here in St. Ignace. Both have plenty of freshly cut trees for sale.

My first stop was to McFarland’s Country Store on North State Street. Richard and Doris McFarland have owned and operated their store for 50 years now. They sell a wide variety of products, including smoked fish, fireworks, clothing, and a multitude of other items.

During the fall season they sell pumpkins, very large pumpkins. What was the biggest pumpkin they ever had on the lot? Mr. McFarland says, “Five hundred pounds!”

If you want to hear a great story, stop in and ask about the 500-pound pumpkin.

But today we are interested in Christmas trees. As I made my way around the lot, Mr. McFarland told me they carry seven varieties of trees, blue and white Spruce, scotch and white pine, and Douglas, balsam, and Fraser fir. The Fraser fir, he said, is the top-of-the-line tree, with the second best tree being the balsam fir, due to the hardy needles they produce, and the longevity of the tree.


Chuck Cullip with his trees at The Feed Station on US-2. Chuck Cullip with his trees at The Feed Station on US-2. The height of the trees ranges from five and a half feet to 12 feet, and the prices range from $20 to $60. Mr. McFarland gets his trees from growers in places ranging from Cadillac all the way to Newberry.

Some of his regular customers buy their tree already tied up, he said, knowing without inspecting it that they are getting, as always, a firstclass, perfect tree.

My next stop was to The Feed Station, one mile west of the Mackinac Bridge on US-2.

Chuck and Connie Cullip have owned and operated The Feed Station for more than 12 years. Not only do they sell feed for just about every animal you can think of, they have fishing tackle, boots for hunting, and many more products, and yes – Christmas trees.


Trees await shoppers at The Feed Station. Trees await shoppers at The Feed Station. Mr. Cullip said they sell only balsam fir trees. It has appeared to them to be the prettiest tree and the most popular tree. His trees range in size from five feet to six and a half feet, and they sell for $30 each.

He gets the trees from a farm in Cheboygan.

What about the trees that are left unsold on Christmas eve?

Mr. Cullip said, “After we close, there is a note left, letting the customer know that if they need a tree, they can take one and drop the money in a drop slot located near the front door.”

This is a great idea to help the lastminute customer.

A number of years ago, on Christmas

Eve, they had only one tree left. This was before the drop slot was put in. He attached a note to the tree stating it was only $20 and a coffee can was left beside it. If you wanted the tree, put $20 in the can and throw it over the fence, and take the tree.


At left: Richard Mc- Farland and his wife Doris (not pictured) have been selling trees at the Country Store for decades. At left: Richard Mc- Farland and his wife Doris (not pictured) have been selling trees at the Country Store for decades. The next day when he came in, the tree was gone, the coffee can was over the fence on the ground, and yes, there was $20 inside.

A couple of years later, a man stopped in to thank Mr. Cullip for saving his family’s Christmas, as he was the man who took the last tree.

What a wonderful way to show a stranger that the honor system is still alive and well in the Upper Peninsula.



Evergreen trees in a perky line at the Country Store are ready for Christmas. Evergreen trees in a perky line at the Country Store are ready for Christmas.

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