The first Saturday in December is reserved for a hallowed annual celebration of Farmington resident Chester Greenwood, the inventor of earmuffs.

Farmington native Chester Greenwood is credited with inventing the earmuff.

According to historical accounts, Greenwood was only 15 years old in 1873, when he designed his first prototype of the iconic ear protectors. He got a patent for his creation of wire, beaver fur and cloth when he was 19. Nine years later, the Chester Greenwood & Co. factory was producing and shipping Champion ear protectors worldwide.

In 1936, the company had its biggest year, producing 400,000 pairs. Today, the original factory houses a restaurant and offices, but the 42nd annual celebration on Saturday, Dec. 7, is expected to bring thousands of visitors for the holiday season kickoff.

Hosted by the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, the colorful and creative parade of floats will feature “A Storybook Scene” theme. Homemade gingerbread houses fill the Bangor Savings Bank branch on Main Street with the unmistakable smells of the season. Local student musicians and carolers will line the streets and corners, offering songs and carols for passersby.

Chester Greenwood Day also includes tours of the 1846 Titcomb House with members of the Farmington Historical Society.

The Taste of Farmington Passport allow purchasers to try food and drink tastings at several local restaurants. Although the list of participating businesses is not yet finalized, Passport destinations and tickets will be available through the chamber office in advance or on Chester Greenwood Day at the Chamber’s booth in downtown Farmington. Visit franklincountymaine.org for updates and information on all the activities being planned.

Also that Saturday, the 22nd annual Festival of Trees will be held at the Community Center on 127 Middle St.

Lisa Laflin, executive director of the Tri-County United Way, helps organize the event and said watching the decorating process alone is worth a visit to the Community Center. This year’s Farmington Rotary Club fundraiser starts with the donation of 23 full-sized trees, five tabletop trees and 10 wreaths. Teams of decorators arrive at 7 a.m. and spend hours perfecting their project for the evening’s auction. Doors open at 9 a.m. to the public, and visitors are invited to admire the decorations until 5 p.m. The rest of the evening is all about raising funds for worthy causes.

“One full-size tree is decorated by the community,” Laflin said. “We invite people to bring an ornament to hang on the tree throughout the day of the festival.”

This year, decorations on two trees have an extra-special meaning. First responders from statewide police and county sheriffs’ departments are sending their unique patch for one tree. Another will feature 1,000 folded paper cranes to support the healing process for Larry Lord, the LEAP employee who was badly burned in the Sept. 16 building explosion in Farmington. The auction is spirited, friendly and even a little competitive. Proxy bidders are allowed, and trees and decorations are wrapped carefully to go to their new homes.

“The spirit of Christmas is alive and well,” said Laflin. “People help each other and laugh and just have a lot of fun all day long.”

The Emery Community Arts Center on the University of Maine at Farmington campus offers performances and exhibits. At 7 p.m., on Saturday, Feb 1, the center presents “Droplet Dance: The Celebration & Awareness of Water Through Dance.” The original choreography and performance by Molly Gawler integrates dance, theater and acrobatics in song and stories. Live accompaniment is by songwriter and fiddle player Lissa Schneckenburger of Brattleboro, Vermont. For details and a schedule of winter events, visit artsfarmington.org.

Sugarloaf ski resort in Carrabassett Valley will make sure children have plenty of fun during Children’s Festival Jan. 5-8. The schedule will include fireworks, ice cream parties, and mountain mascots Amos the Moose and Blueberry. Visit sugarloaf.com and click on the events calendar for details. On Jan. 25, the Sugarloaf Charity Summit will welcome Sugarloafers, old and new, to join the fight against cancer. The fundraiser includes the Climb For a Cure, Amos’ Army, a gala charity ball, raffles and auctions. Throughout the winter season, Sugarloaf and the Carrabassett Valley Academy will host special events and competitions, including all types of skiing and snowboarding.

 

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