WEST POINT -- It was like a reunion between the Christmas tree providers and their loyal buyers.
Primping freshly cut Christmas trees for sale, Corey Venstra and his two sons, Chase and Challis, greeted familiar customers, who flock to the family's lot each year over Black Friday weekend.
Either by name or by sight, the Venstra family Friday morning knew most of the customers visiting the makeshift tree lot in the yard of their West Point home, 4496 W. 800 North.
"These are the same people year after year," Venstra said as families spilled out of trucks to pick up their annual Christmas tree.
Before the weekend is through, whether from word of mouth or repeat customer, Venstra said he will sell the 140 high-desert Nevada pinyon pines, cut just last week on Bureau of Land Management land.
That's the Venstras' way: Offer for an affordable price -- between $20 and $60, depending on height -- fresh-cut trees that will remain green without watering from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day.
"The thing that brings people back is (the trees) are so fresh," Venstra said. "They hold up really well."
And in these days of artificial trees, there isn't as much competition to sell live trees, he said. A farmer and sheet metal worker, for one week a year for the past 34 years, Venstra transforms into a Christmas tree salesman.
"We do this for a little Christmas money," he said.
Because of the work involved in offering fresh-cut trees, fewer businesses are doing it, Venstra said.
"We have to carry these trees to the road," he said of the labor-intensive job that takes him and his two sons into the backcountry where vehicles are unable to go.
Because of the popularity of artificial Christmas trees, Venstra said, fewer people are looking to buy a live tree.
"In 1988, we sold 400 pinyons," he said.
But those days are gone.
However, those who do buy fresh trees remain fiercely loyal to the Venstras' side business.
Rick Lessey, of West Point, has bought a live tree from Venstra for 20 years.
"These trees will last till New Year's," said Lessey. "It's just been a family tradition. It makes the whole house smell like Christmas."
Venstra's 31-year-old son, Chase, has been cutting and selling Christmas trees with his dad and brother his whole life. "I love it."
In addition to the Christmas spending money he earns, he enjoys the work, Chase said.
"It's peace on earth to me," he said of the serenity of going into the backcountry to collect the trees.
"Everyone is always telling us, 'That is a whole lot of work,' " said 29-year-old Challis Venstra. But his family enjoys doing it.
"We never have anybody complain about (the trees)," he said proudly.
Karen Fronk, of North Ogden, and her extended family bought three trees from the Venstras, who sold about 30 trees the first hour they were open Friday.
Fronk said she loves the smell of pinyons.
For 15 years, the Fronks have been buying their Christmas trees from the Venstras after Karen's husband, Scott, followed an unknown motorist who had a pinyon pine tied to the roof of his car -- just to ask him where he got the tree.
Corey Venstra said it is customers like the Fronks and Lesseys who have the Venstra family nearly selling out of trees every year.