WATERVILLE — Holiday music filled the air Friday as 70 trees decorated for the holidays sparkled and shimmered on opening day of the annual Sukeforth Family Festival of Trees at Hathaway Creative Center on Water Street.

People of all ages dropped tickets into buckets next to the trees, which were laden with everything from toys to a Toro snowblower, hoping to win a tree and all the gifts beneath it.

Proceeds from the festival, which last year netted more than $200,000, will go to Hospice Volunteers of Waterville Area, Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers and Spectrum Generations Muskie Center Meals on Wheels.

Rita Sukeforth, who with her husband, Doug, and their family hosts the event, was sitting at a table greeting guests in the hallway that leads two large rooms where the trees are displayed.

“It’s been steady,” Sukeforth said. “A lot of the nursing homes came this morning. Everything’s going good.”

The aroma of beef stew, white bean chicken chili and American chop suey wafted down the hallway from Santa’s Snack Shack, where volunteer Mary Derosier was waiting on customers.


“It’s going very well,” she said. “The walking tacos are a really big hit.”

Hosted by the Muskie Center, the snack shack also serves hot dogs, coffee, hot chocolate, apple cider and soda.

Businesses and organizations donate thousands of dollars worth of trees and decorations as well as gifts that are given away in a drawing at the end of the festival. Many trees are decorated with a theme.

Golden Pond Wealth Management, for instance, has a tree decorated with boat, fish and loon ornaments, and gifts including two L.L. Bean kayaks, two Adirondack chairs, a $200 gift card to L.L. Bean, a Yetl cooler, fishing rods and a fire pit.

Fortin’s Home Furnishings’ display sports a tall, slim tree with colorful baubles, and gifts including a stuffed chair, table and lamp, cabinet with goodies packed into it, ice skates, a tool set, wood chair, basket of fishing gear and more.

Selah Tea Cafe’s tall tree topped with a sparkling reindeer head is surrounded with gifts including an electric fireplace, coffee makers, a huge jug of maple syrup and a giant stuffed brown Teddy bear.


Sukeforth’s daughter, Annette Sukeforth Marin, was floating among the trees and visitors Friday afternoon.

“It came together good and people are saying they love the two rooms,” she said.

Last year, the festival was held in one room on the west side of the building but because Hathaway Mill Antiques is now housed in that room, the tree festival had to be moved and now is in two rooms down the hall. The antiques business also has a tree and gifts in the festival.

Marin said the festival resumes from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday and then re-opens from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 24 and 25 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 26. At the end of that last day, names of winners of trees and gifts will be drawn and they will be called by telephone.

Marin said the businesses and organizations that donated to the event are incredibly generous.

“I can’t thank them enough,” she said. “These trees are just phenomenal. They put a lot of time and effort into them.”


In some cases, she said, employees of the businesses donated the gifts under the trees.

Waterville resident Debbie Russell was perusing the trees and accompanying gifts Friday and by mid-afternoon, she had seen nearly every display.

“I’m almost to the very end,” she said, smiling. “Oh, it’s awesome. This is the third year I’ve come. I was so sure I was going to win last year, but oh well, there’s always this year.”

Russell said she particularly liked the displays of cozy rooms.

“I like the ones with fireplaces and TVs and comfy chairs,” she said.

She said she hoped to win the Zimba Co. display, which features more than $3,000 worth of gifts including an electric fireplace with wood trim on which sits a large-screen television. The holiday tree itself is decorated with bird, fox, owl, raccoon, squirrel and other animal-themed ornaments.


Teague Distributors, Inc., Thomas College, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Waterville Area Women’s Club, G.V. Builders & McCormack Building Supply, GHM Insurance and Whittemore & Sons are among the dozens of businesses and organizations that contributed to the festival, which also features daily 50-50 drawings.

Amy Calder — 861-9247


Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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