HOLT, Mo. - A longtime family business in Missouri is opening its doors for the last time this holiday season.
Schmitt's Santa's Forest in Holt, Mo. has been selling Christmas trees since 1961. After 52 years in business, the family is closing the farm at the end of this year.
"It's sad because it's been a lot of fun," Myron Schmitt said.
Myron Schmitt started the business with his older brother, Lynn, years ago, on a small plot of land in Kansas City, Mo. Lynn Schmitt then bought the larger plot in Holt and business moved up there.
"At one time, we probably had as many as 60,000 Christmas trees," said Myron Schmitt. "On a weekend, we'd sell 1000 trees."
Curt Wendt and his family has been visiting Schmitt's Santa's Forest for about 30 years. It started with his own children, now Wendt brings his grandchildren when they're in town for the holiday.
"Cut a tree down, a fresh tree," said Wendt. "It's a lot of fun for the kids."
Wendt did not know 2013 would be the last year they would be able to carry on this tradition.
"We'll have to find another tree farm some place," he said.
The Schmitts decided to close the farm because, they said, it was time. Lynn Schmitt is battling some health issues so he is unable to do as much work around the farm.
"I had a stroke, so I can't do very much," he said.
Plus, in recent years, the weather has not been kind to the trees.
"The last 3 years haven't been real good as far as getting rain when you need it," said Myron Schmitt.
It takes a Christmas tree anywhere from seven to eight years to grow to the height that most people want, said Myron. And what people want has changed over the years.
"The trees used to be an average of six to seven foot, most families wanted," he said. "Now they're wanting anywhere from seven to ten feet."
Over the years, Schmitts has won numerous awards, including being named national champion in 1994 by the National Christmas Tree Association. The winning tree was decorated and put on display at the White House. More than 30 members of the Schmitt family went to Washington D.C. that year to celebrate.
"It's been a lot of fun," said Myron Schmitt. "I've been all over the country. Places that I probably wouldn't have vacationed to."
So when Schmitt's Santa's Forest opens its gate at 9 a.m. Friday, it will be a bittersweet moment.