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Keeping Classic Christmas Alive

December 3, 2012, 10:10 PM by Sammi Bjelland

Keeping Classic Christmas Alive
CANTON, SD -

With the recent drought and trying to keep up with the latest pre-lit artificial substitutes, the Christmas tree business faces many challenges. But a local man who's been doing the job for 24 years says, it's all about keeping the tradition alive.

"It's a good tradition to start. We did it when I was growing up with my family. It's just something the two of us, we wanted to start that. Something for our family someday," tree shopper Jessica Mydland said.

Bill Keizer started the Riverview Christmas Tree Farm as an early retirement business with his wife more than 20 years ago.

He trims about 12,000 of the trees by himself every year in preparation for the Christmas season.

"You have to do all of your business in about four weekends. So, you work all year for four weekends and hope that everything comes out right," Keizer said.

And even though there are about 16,000 trees at the Riverview Farm that need to be maintained and groomed all year round, Keizer says it's a tradition worth keeping up.

"It's a family tradition. We've seen now three generations out here, grandpas and the kids and the parents. And a lot of children that came a long time ago, now they come back and have children. So it's really a business about memories," Keizer said.

Like any businesses, they face their own hardships. Because of the drought, many farmers had difficulty with their crops this past year. Christmas trees are no different.

"I had to water quite a bit on the smaller trees. And it did cause some problems with some of the fir trees on the south side. But hopefully we'll get some moisture this winter, maybe next spring. So, it will all be okay," Keizer said.

The drought isn't the only challenge this business of Christmas cheer faces every year. Artificial trees have been cutting into the natural pine business.

"People I think have gotten away from the real tree because it's a hassle to put up. And maybe some of the trees that are brought in aren't shaked," Keizer said.

However there are a few things a fake tree just can't offer.

"We always like the ones that smell nice or the blue ones," Matt Mydland said

Keizer is helping keep the magic of a classic Christmas alive, a long with a few marriages, thanks to his great attention to detail.

"We shake our trees, get all of the dead needles, bird nests or whatever out of there. And we sell a stand that we drill on a machine. And they just pound on with a big water bowl. So easy, one fellow said I saved his marriage," Keizer said.

And his customers notice this special attention to detail.

"Now he's going to haul it back for us! Which is even better," Matt said.

On average, Keizer sells about 300 trees a day during the Christmas season.

Research done by the National Christmas Tree Association shows that 30.8 million real trees were sold last year compared to only 9.8 million artificial trees sold.

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