Brown's Christmas Tree Farm in York County prepares for the holiday season

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With Christmas just around the corner, people in the market for a live tree can buy one from local organizations.

Alas, this isn't the premise for a feel-good Christmas story that ends with Santa Claus flying in to save the day. Those declining sales led farmers to plant less trees and because it takes Christmas trees so long to grow, we're just now feeling that pinch.

"Back in 2014, we recognised there was very much a trend for artificial trees at that time that were very stripped out and minimalist, following a Scandinavian approach, where you could see the light coming through between the branches".

The event will feature ornament-making for children, a concert from the choral group Sounds of the Falls, Christmas cartoons and Christmas tree fire safety with Smokey Bear.

"Demand, hurricane relief, seasonal freight, that's what we're running into is they want the loads and they'll double and triple the prices of what it was two weeks ago", said owner Ron Watson.

Here's why: Christmas trees grow about one foot every year, so the trees most people want - medium size trees between 6 and 10 feet - were planted nearly a decade ago.

Now those trees are fully grown, but there are fewer of them to go around, and there are more people looking to buy real trees. And smaller retailers, including the Vario family, are getting cut out entirely.

"We didn't have any issue", Vanderpool said. "We're just a little lot".

Brown's Christmas Tree Farm in York County prepares for the holiday season
Brown's Christmas Tree Farm in York County prepares for the holiday season

Large-volume retailers are better able to compete for limited stock.

Some people might say October is a little early to start shopping for the holidays.

"The trees this year have done a really well". The will include Douglas firs, Grand firs and Noble firs, ranging in size from 5-feet to 8-feet.

"We're out there in July trimming trees to make them look like Christmas trees; we are here in the snow and sleet when we are trying to sell them", Judy Wegman said. The most popular day to buy a Christmas tree is the Saturday after Thanksgiving weekend (Dec. 2 this year), with the highest prices on Black Friday (average of $66) and lowest on Christmas Eve (average of $30). The committee, which he said has been around "as long as me", no longer serves a objective since the city hired its economic development director, Suzi Pegg.

It's the same story for Justin Sanchez, who owns a tree farm.

Virginia ranks seventh, only harvesting almost 500,000 trees. Tree permits and forest maps are available during regular office hours, Mondays through Fridays, at any Malheur National Forest office.

The downturn in the economy in 2008 hit tree growers nationally.