Utah man’s playhouses bring in thousands for charity at Festival of Trees

Posted at 10:03 PM, Sep 22, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-23 00:03:23-04

SPRINGVILLE, Utah – The Festival of Trees at South Towne Exposition Center in Sandy is still several months away, but one man and his daughter have already started work on a special item they intend to donate.

The roughly 12-feet by 10-feet playhouse they are constructing normally sells for about $10,000.

John Sparks of Springville has been building the high-quality playhouses in Utah County for years, and he said what started as a hobby has blossomed into an annual project.

Sparks and his daughter have already completed the roof and framing on their current project. Jennifer John is Sparks’ daughter, and she is on the Festival of Trees executive board.

“Last week we had the floor and these three walls up in one day, it took us.. well we were done by the time the kids got home from school,” she said of the project.

This will be the seventh playhouse Sparks and his daughter have built for the festival, which auctions off decorated Christmas trees, playhouses and other donated items each year.  John said she thinks carefully about the design of the playhouses she and her father build.

“I build it as though I was gonna put it for my kids, so I kind of decorate it in that way,” she said. “I like the loft with carpet because I think if I was a kid I'd like to go up there and put my TV in the corner and have a sleepover in the loft. And then down here where the desk is, you know, then the little kids can come in and play and draw and color and have it be a little house.”

All of the proceeds from the Festival of Trees are donated to the Primary Children’s Medical Center. Each of the playhouses Sparks has built has sold for about $10,000 at the festival. Sparks said he thinks he only has a few more of the playhouses left in him.

“I told her if we could do three more, then I’d make my goal of $100,000 to Primary Children’s Hospital,” he said.

The Festival of Trees is held each year during the first week after Thanksgiving; this year it falls between Dec. 4 and Dec. 7. For more information, visit the festival’s website.