WATERVILLE — The fifth annual Sukeforth Festival of Trees kicks off Friday at The Elm on College Avenue where visitors may buy tickets to try to win 60 trees decorated for the holidays and laden with gifts worth thousands of dollars.

The festival, held over two weekends, is hosted by Doug and Rita Sukeforth and their family to benefit Hospice Volunteers of Waterville Area, Shriners’ Hospitals and Spectrum Generations’ Meals on Wheels program.

Vanessa Doyon places the star atop the Water’s Edge Therapy tree Wednesday during set-up for the fifth annual Sukeforth Family Festival of Trees at The Elm in Waterville.

Last year, the festival raised more than $200,000 and drew about 13,000 people to the former American Legion hall at 21 College Ave., which this year was transformed into The Elm, an event center.

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas over here,” the Sukeforths’ daughter, Annette Sukeforth Marin, said Tuesday at the site. “We probably have about 40 trees — we’ll have 60 all together.”

Sukeforth Marin said that with the building’s renovations, the festival is even more beautiful. Businesses and organizations donate artificial trees and decorate them with themed-based ornaments, gift cards and gifts.

This year, GHM Insurance Agency, for instance, has a holiday-themed tree. GHM is owned by Bill Mitchell, who also owns The Elm.


“They’ve got a table and four stools and Christmas dinner is their theme,” Sukeforth Marin said. “It’s beautiful. It’s got recipes on the tree, a bicycle, plates, silverware and napkins.”

Doug’s Garage, of Benton, has a lobster-themed tree, she said.

“They’re giving away a gift certificate for $500 worth of seafood from B&F Vegetables (in Winslow),” she said. “There’s a picnic table, dinner plates with lobsters, lobster napkins, nutcrackers, butter cups, a cribbage board and lobster pot.”

Attitudes, a hair and nail salon, has a unicorn-themed tree, with lots of unicorns and fun items that children will no doubt love, according to Sukeforth Marin.

Entry to the festival is $2 for adults, and children under 12 are admitted free of charge.

Mandy Dow, co-owner of H&R Block in Waterville, assembles a Christmas tree of large Lego blocks for the official H&R Block tree Wednesday in advance of the fifth annual Sukeforth Family Festival of Trees at The Elm in Waterville.

Visitors may purchase as many tickets as they want for 50 cents each and place them in containers next to the trees they want to win. The last day of the festival, Dec. 1, names will be drawn and winners announced and called.


Also, each day of the festival, people may buy raffle tickets for a 50-50 drawing held an hour before the end of the day. Sukeforth Marin said a person can win as much as $2,500.

There are about 10 new festival entrants this year, including Wireless Technology Solutions, KV Federal Credit Union and Ware-Butler.

Festival hours are  10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday this week, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday; as well as 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 29 and 30, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 1.

Santa Claus is on hand at the festival and children and adults may stop to visit him.

“It gets you into the Christmas spirit,” Sukeforth Marin said of the festival. “Anybody can enjoy it … it’s affordable for everyone.”

Hosted by the Sukeforth family since 2015, the festival initially was held at Hathaway Creative Center on Water Street but moved to the College Avenue site for the first time last year.

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