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Paul Smith and family join Vice President Joe Biden to deliver three Christmas trees that now adorn the vice president’s offical residence, the United States Naval Observatory. Pictured, from left, Paul Smith, Mary Chesnut Smith, Joe Biden, Meg Austin Smith, Douglas Smith, Serena Smith, Nathaniel Smith and Jill Biden.

Originally published: 2012-12-17 17:24:04
Last modified: 2012-12-17 17:24:04

Biden time

Matthew Hundley / (

Avery County farmers Paul Smith and Mark Smith provided Christmas trees for the United States vice president’s residence, United States Naval Observatory, this Christmas after taking second place in the National Christmas Tree Association’s annual competition.
“It was difficult finding some of the trees that he wanted,” Paul Smith said. “But when we got to the residence they looked beautiful. They did a great job decorating the trees. The residence was beautiful.”
Paul remarked that the entire trip was enjoyable and one that he was glad to be able to share with his family.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Paul said. “There was a lot of security, going in. There was a reception that we attended. We met the vice president and his wife. I was impressed with how gracious Biden was. He was very welcoming.”
“Being a family business, it was fitting that most of our immediate family were able to attend the reception in D.C.,” Serena Smith said. “Paul’s brother Mark is his business partner, but he and his wife Carolyn were not able to make the trip. We had with us our oldest son, Douglas and his wife Meg, who live in the D.C. area. Douglas spent one harvest after college working for Cool Springs Nursery. We also had son Nathaniel who has worked for Cool Springs the better part of the last three years – taking the winters off to go to Colorado. Nathaniel has been a jack of all trades, from sales to designing and building better machinery for roping and other tasks, to assisting in running the office. Our youngest daughter, Mary Chesnut, was able to join us also, as she had a break in her exam schedule at UNCW. She has worked holidays and before college, weekends, for CSN. Unfortunately, our office manager, daughter Katharine, and her husband, Jason Spradling, who has worked several harvests, overseeing the loading of outgoing trees and greenery during harvest and sales the rest of the year, were not able to travel because of their infant daughter.”
Brothers Paul and Mark, who won the N.C. Christmas Tree Association Competition, won the national category for fir trees, while Ashe County growers Beau and Rusty Estes won the spruce category with a blue spruce. In the overall competition, the blue spruce won out.
The competition, which moves each year, took place in Sacramento, Calif., and was composed of the winner and runner-up from each state.
“We competed against all the other states, and we won the true fir category,” Paul Smith explained. “Rusty had a blue spruce, so he won the spruce category, so we were then in competition with each other. Tree growers actually voted on which was the better tree, and then the general public voted. I am sorry to say a blue spruce won grand champion over a Fraser fir.”
Paul was gratified to find that the vice president also chose a Cool Springs Nursery tree by chance when choosing a tree for their private home.
“One interesting thing was that, the next day, I went to Delaware to visit a customer, Maroney Trees, and it turned out that the Bidens had actually bought one of our trees from them by chance for their own personal residence.”