For the Rev. Stephany Sechrist, the Festival of Trees is an opportunity to see the beauty of York County during the holiday season.

"I think it just gives us a chance to immerse ourselves in beauty," said Sechrist, a festival co-chair. "I think it prepares our hearts for the sense of expectation we associate with Christmas."

The York County Council of Churches will present its 17th annual Festival of Trees, which begins at noon Friday at the York County Heritage Trust at 250 E. Market St. in York City.

Started in 1995, the annual festival benefits the York County Council of Churches and provides funding for its programs.

A 10th of this year's proceeds will be given -- through the council -- to local food banks, Sechrist said. No formal fundraising goal has been set, she said.

"We're grateful for whatever funding we receive from the public," Sechrist said.

What's included: The festival features displays of decorated trees, wreaths, ornaments and other holiday decorations.

More than 60 trees have been decorated by local families, nonprofit organizations, professional decorators and florists, businesses and residents, according to Sechrist.

The festival includes a St. Nicholas Shop, an Advent Shop and 10,000 Villages Fair Trade handmade items, she said.

During the festival, attendees can bid on hundreds of holiday display items garnished by local florists, interior designers and companies that sell items, as well as area garden clubs, churches and social agencies.

There also will be entertainment, including selections from soloists, musicians, singers and choirs.

"It's very much a group effort, lots of talented people," Sechrist said.

If you go: York County Council of Churches' 17th annual Festival of Trees will be held at the York County Heritage Trust, 250 E. Market St. in York City. The schedule is:

---Friday, noon to 8 p.m.

---Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

---Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m.

Admission is $5 for adults and children older than 12.

On Monday, there will be a festival of foods at 5 p.m. and a tree auction at 6:30 p.m. for a $15 admission fee.

For information, call the council at 854-9504.

-- Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at 505-5438 or