BECKVILLE — While this Thanksgiving Day evening and following Black Friday saw East Texans flooding stores for shopping deals, there was a family business in Beckville that was also preparing for one of its busiest days of the year.
The Merket Christmas Tree Farm, off of FM 1794 in Beckville, kicked off its 30th anniversary of Christmas tree sales on Thursday.
“We started the farm in 1985 and began selling trees four years later in 1989,” farm owner Jackie Merket said on Wednesday.
But harried shoppers shouldn’t worry; Merket has plenty of Christmas trees, from short to tall, to fat to skinny and everything in between for East Texans to take home and decorate for the holidays.
Thankfully, Merket also has plenty of helpers on hand this holiday season to help out on the family farm this year after his wife Debbie Merket died this past year.
Merket’s sister Kathy Hall came in all the way from Snyder to celebrate Thanksgiving and help out with the farm, as did other family members.
“This is truly a family-run farm,” Hall said Wednesday.
Christmas tree hunters won’t be disappointed with the selection this year, Merket said.
“We have fantastic trees this year. We have about 350 Fraser Firs shipped in from North Carolina because they won’t grow here in Texas, and we have Virginia Pine and Leland Cypress that we grow here on the farm,” Merket said. “The Frasers brought in this year are fantastic. They had a good year in North Carolina, with lots of rain and cool weather.”
The trees come in sizes from about 3 feet to 3.5 feet tall, all the way up to 14 feet and above. One tree on site, set to be purchased by a local university, sits at more than 25 feet tall, Merket said.
The trees start at $30 and go up depending on size and type.
“The Fraser Firs are little bit more expensive because they have to be shipped in,” he said. “I also do the flocking on site, or we have a selection of trees already flocked for purchase.”
If customers pick out a tree and then decide to have it flocked, they’ll have to come back and pick it up the next day because the flame retardant powder needs time to dry.
Customers can also decide if they want to cut down their own tree themselves or pick out the perfect tree and have the farm’s crew cut it down for them.
Tree stands are available on site, along with tree fertilizer that is supposed to extend the life of the tree — though Merket said sometimes just keeping the tree stand full with plenty of plain water is just as good for the tree.
“Every time you hear about fires at Christmas time, it’s always the real trees that you get warned about, but the plastic, artificial trees actually burn faster,” he said. “Also, real Christmas tree farms are a renewable energy source because for every tree we cut and sell, we go and plant three or four more in its place. Artificial plastic trees just end up in landfills.”
While customers wait for their trees to be shaken, cut and compressed, they can visit the Merket Farm’s store on site or visit with Santa Claus for a photo and candy cane.
“Santa will be here all day today and he is guaranteed to be here every Saturday,” Merket said. “Other days, he could pop in.”
Inside the store, customers can buy gifts for friends or family members or take a treat home for themselves in Merket’s own handmade jellies, candies and snacks.
Merket also grows crops of peaches, mayhaws, muscadines and more.
“Everything but the blueberries are grown here,” he said. “We have plum and blackberry jelly too. We try to keep a variety. We also have jars of fresh honey and snack cakes. The mayhaw cake is my own recipe.”
There are also handmade chocolate covered peanuts, fudge, peanut patties and Tiger’s Butter fudge.
Proceeds from the sales benefit the Panola County Cancer Coalition.
A neighbor of Merket’s also sells handmade stockings in the store, as well as knit hats and scarves.
While the parents shop, children can visit the baby goats at the petting zoo.
The farm is open from 3 to 6 p.m. each Monday through Thursday through just before Christmas Day. The farm is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Jellies, juices and other store items are available for sale year round.
For more information, visit the farm’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/merketfarm or call (903) 678-2359. Guests can also visit their website at https://www.texaschristmastrees.net/merketfarm.htm