River Ridge Tree Farms of Ashe County was named Grand Champion Fraser Fir Farm at the Summer Meeting of the NC Christmas Tree Association in August 2007. The growers Jessie Davis and Rusty Estes then represented North Carolina in the Summer 2008 National Christmas Tree contest held in Des Moines Iowa. They entered an 8 ft. Fraser Fir and won the Blue Ribbon for the True Fir category and were also named Grand Champion Growers of all species. This is the 3rd time in the last four years that a North Carolina farm has won this award and the second straight win for Ashe County. North Carolina growers have won this National honor 11 times – almost twice as much as the next closest state. Jessie Davis and Rusty Estes of River Ridge Tree Farms were in attendance to receive the Grand Champion ribbon and were very excited to receive this award. As a result of the win, they presented an 18.5-foot NC Fraser Fir to First lady Laura Bush in November 2008. This tree will be displayed in the White House Blue Room to be viewed by all visitors to the White House during the Christmas Season.
River Ridge Tree Farms was founded in 1983 by Jessie Davis and his father in law Joe Pennington. After Joe passed away in 2003, Rusty Estes became a partner along with Jessie’s mother in law Carol Pennington. Rusty has been growing trees since 1979 and was a great a great addition to the River Ridge Team. River Ridge Farms has trees planted in locations throughout northwest North Carolina as well as southwest Virginia. The tree to be presented to the White House will be chosen from a field of trees that were planted in 1985 by Jessie and Joe on one of their original farms in Creston, N.C. Jessie said that it was fitting that one of the Trees that Joe help plant would be going to Washington to represent the nation. He said that he was sure that Joe would be very proud of this accomplishment and achievement and that this honor was equivalent to winning the Super Bowl.