St. Croix Valley Trees Is an Ideal Holiday Tree Option for the Entire Family

St. Croix Valley Trees

Ask many a family in the Valley: St. Croix Valley Trees in Somerset, Wis., is the perfect way to spend a chilly December day. Bundled up in down coats, woolen mittens and fuzzy earmuffs, residents explore the festive environment the Schottlers provide at this winter wonderland getaway.

At its core, St. Croix Valley Trees is a holiday farm, offering several options including balsam fir, Fraser fir, spruce, white pine, Norway pine and Canaan fir. Trudge through the snow to the tree field to witness the selection firsthand, hundreds of beautiful trees upon which you can picture stringing lights and hanging baubles. The trees average between $45–$75, with white pine being the cheapest and Fraser fir on the more expensive side. “We have about seven standard kinds of trees and some exotics that we are working on,” co-owner Sherrill Schottler says. For every tree Schottler sells, she typically has between eight and 12 visitors, and the average visitor spends about two to three hours choosing a tree and enjoying the fun activities and food.

Once you’ve picked what kind of tree you’re interested in, you’re welcome to either grab a precut one or take a stab at cutting your own. “We are primarily a come-here-and-cut-your-own-tree kind of space,” Schottler says. “And all of the trees are labeled in the field; what kind of tree it is and what the price is, so the person knows what the tree is going to cost before they decide they want that specific variety.” No need to pack your own handsaw: Everything is provided by St. Croix Valley Trees, including cutting utensils and a large plastic sled on which to retrieve your tree.

After you’ve yelled “timber,” still more choices await: You have the option to make your tree a bit more manageable for your home, free of charge. One of those services is drilling a hole in the bottom of the tree, so you can easily stand it up. “The tree is always straight when you set it up and it takes one minute or less to set the tree up in the tree stand,” Schottler says. Her crew also provides services to clean up the tree, so it’s easier to transport. “We shake out anything that could be accumulated in the tree, like loose needles,” Schottler says. “And then we bale it; it is put in a wrap of netting, which makes it a nice, tight bundle that makes it easy to get in the house.”

If you’re worried about the environmental impact of cutting down the trees, Schottler explains why it’s a good thing for both environment and the community. “It’s a crop. So once in awhile, people will say, ‘Oh, it’s too bad to cut down this beautiful tree,’ but for every one tree we sell, we plant four more,” Schottler says. “We give jobs to local youth, because we have more than 25 people on staff.”

Getting a tree isn’t the only reason to visit St. Croix Valley Trees. At the farm, the Schottlers have a variety of activities to participate in and interesting items to see. For example: “We have the world’s largest gumball machine,” Schottler says. “We have a 1950s jukebox for music and dancing—for the folks who would like to stand around and sing.” They also provide free wagon rides out to the fields. “The only thing one pays extra for is, if they wish, to buy something to eat. Everything else here is just a part of the experience,” Schottler says.

If you’re worried your kids won’t have a good time, “We have what we think is the world’s largest straw mountain tunnel,” Schottler says, in addition to other family-friendly offerings like dancing puppets. Kids are welcome to walk the enchanted forest trail and play hide-and-seek in the fields. Fur babies are welcome, too, just remember to put your canine friend(s) on a leash.

After all the tree cutting and other festive activities, one might find they’ve worked up an appetite. St. Croix Valley Trees has some yummy options. “We have something unique here called Donillas and Gooey-O’s, and they are deep-fried cookies,” Schottler says. “They’re good. You get a refresher smell and taste and ambience of the State Fair.” If you’re not in the mood for something deep-fried, the Schottlers have hot dogs and brats as well; hot chocolate, cider and coffee are all available, along with standard soft drinks.

When you’ve had your fill, there’s one more stop to make—check out the gift shop, located in the rustic red barn that is more than 100 years old. Full of some fun items that will make wonderful Christmas presents for someone special in your life, the gift barn hosts “Christmas ornaments, things for the Christmas season and, occasionally, I have a very talented sister-in-law that brings her handmade hats, mittens and scarves, and they’re very popular,” Schottler says.

St. Croix Valley Trees is open the day after Thanksgiving and weekends from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and continues to stay open until December 19. (On weekdays, hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.) “If you’re here after 4 p.m., there’s not enough daylight to choose a tree. That’s kind of important for folks to know,” Schottler says. “For a lot of people, it has become a very important part of their holiday tradition. We are now on the third generation of people coming out here. I have people saying, ‘When I was little, I came here and now I’m bringing my grown children and my grandchildren.’”

It’s clear Schottler really enjoys what she’s doing, and it shows in every fun winter-themed activity and snow-covered tree. “My favorite part is visiting with all the guests and listening to their stories about Christmas and family traditions, because our business is centered around family and traditions and making memories,” she says.

Origins of Tradition

St. Croix Valley Trees has been open for 30 years and was an idea formed by Sherrill Schottler’s husband, Paul. “My husband was born and raised on a dairy farm,” Schottler says. “So we had the land. It had been a dairy farm, and it had lots of crop production, and he saw some beautiful trees on a visit to someone in Eastern Wisconsin and thought ‘our land is perfect for growing trees.’”