The 44th annual Chester Greenwood Day parade is being replaced with a virtual one this year. Prizes will be awarded for best theme (Celebrate Maine), best trees, best lights and best overall. Seen in front from left in this file photo is Clyde Ross as Chester Greenwood, Elizabeth Greenwood Thomas as Greenwood’s wife Isabel, and Farmington Town Manager Richard Davis. File photo

FARMINGTON — The Franklin County Chamber of Commerce is still working out some details, but many traditional Chester Greenwood Day events will see some changes this year.

Because of the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in Maine and the governor’s restrictions on social gatherings, there will be no craft fairs this year. The Rotary Club’s Festival of Trees will mostly be held virtually and the chamber-sponsored parade will see the biggest change.

Though the chamber isn’t having a traditional parade this year, it is inviting people to create their own floats and display them outside their homes so people can drive by and view them. The public will have the opportunity to vote on their favorite float.

The theme is Celebrate Maine. There is no fee to enter but pre-registration is required. An online registration form is available on the chamber’s website under annual events, www.franklincountymaine.org/events/annual-events.

“Four prizes will be awarded. One each for best theme, best trees, best lights and best overall, which encompasses them all,” Chamber Executive Director Scott Lavertu said in a phone interview Tuesday, Nov. 17. “On Saturday, Nov. 21, we’ll go live.”

Votes will be tabulated from the likes and comments received, Lavertu said.

“Chamber Bucks and cash prizes will be awarded,” he said. “The amount hasn’t been set yet. It will depend on the monetary donations we receive.”

The 11th annual Gingerbread House contest will be held virtually this year. This larger gingerbread house was part of the 2018 Chester Greenwood Day parade in Farmington. File photo

The 11th annual gingerbread house contest will also be virtual. Participants should contact the chamber at 207-778-4215 to preregister, then post images of their creations online.

“There will be a subcategory on the Chester Greenwood Day Facebook page, available this weekend,” Lavertu said.

Some Chester Greenwood Day events will be held as they have in prior years.

The Farmington Historical Society will hold an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Titcomb House, corner of Academy and High streets, will be decorated for the season. There will be Christmas wreath sales and author Guy Rioux will be signing his fourth book, “Next Stop Farmington,” about the Sandy River Railroad.

The flag raising ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. at the courthouse.

“Clyde Ross (who has portrayed Chester Greenwood in the annual celebration for more than 30 years) has the date marked in his calendar. Paul Mills will be officiating,” Lavertu said.

According to the chamber’s website, Farmington resident Chester Greenwood, inventor of earmuffs, was only 15 when he designed the first pair of ear protectors out of wire, beaver fur and cloth. At the age of 19, he acquired a U.S. patent. By age 28, 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.

On Chester Greenwood Day there will be an outdoor book signing at Devaney Doak and Garett Booksellers from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Children’s author Tonya Shevenell will sign her book, “The Maine Birthday Book.” Masks and social distancing are required.

At 3 p.m., the 34th annual Polar Bear Plunge will be held at Clearwater Lake in Industry.

The Rotary Club’s Festival of Trees, also typically held on Chester Greenwood Day, will be part live, part virtual.

This year, the virtual doors will be swung open at 9 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 27, on the Rotary Facebook page (www.facebook.com/Farmington-Maine-Rotary-Club-118805791510185). The virtual event will feature a “Tree in a Box” and fully decorated wreaths.

Businesses and organizations from throughout the community have put together a fabulous collection of ornaments and gifts for their tree in a box. Successful bidders will also receive a $25 voucher toward a fresh, live tree to decorate. More than 20 trees will be auctioned off. This year, a Maine-themed community tree will also be available. All decorations have been donated by Farmington Rotarians.

Fully decorated trees will be on display at 3D Games, Country Primitives, Vera’s Iron & Vine, Comfort Inn, Orange Cat Café and Twice Sold Tales. In addition to the trees, there will be 15 unique wreaths decorated by businesses and community members.

Bidding closes at 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5. At 7 p.m., a Zoom celebration will occur where winners are announced and the community can gather safely to socialize, listen to local musicians and get into the holiday spirit.

While different this year, Chester Greenwood Day will again aim to offer lots of fun, family activities for area families.

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