FARMINGTON — Some might say earmuffs are no longer trendy. Regardless, they were the premier accessory to wear in Farmington during the town’s annual Chester Greenwood Day on Saturday.

Michael Savoy-Emmons, left, and Davey Savoy-Emmons paddle a walking canoe Saturday during the Chester Greenwood Day Parade in Farmington. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

The town has celebrated 19th-century inventor Chester Greenwood — a Farmington native and resident — every year since 1977. The celebrations are held on the first Saturday of December, which this year is Greenwood’s birthday, Dec. 4. This year, he would have been 163.

Greenwood invented “a tea kettle with a special bottom,” an advertising matchbox, an umbrella holder and — most famously — earmuffs (at 15 years of age), according to “Chester, More than Earmuffs: a Brief History of Chester Greenwood” by Nancy Porter.

The day also celebrates his family, which includes his wife, Isabel, who was a famous activist for women’s suffrage.

The “Vacationland fun” theme of this year’s festivities included a parade down Main Street, several craft fairs with local vendors, a gingerbread house contest and a flag-raising ceremony.

The event was attended by Mainers from far and wide, local politicians, a Chester Greenwood impersonator portrayed by Deputy Fire Chief Clyde Ross and Gov. Janet Mills, a Farmington native.

Following the parade and flag-raising ceremony, Mills told the Sun Journal the day was special because it’s “local people celebrating local businesses and local citizens.”

“(The celebration) certainly brings people downtown. And on a (sunny) day like today, there’s nothing cheerier than a good parade and a lot of wonderful floats,” she said. “So it is a celebration of the town as well as some of its historical citizens.”

Maine Gov. Janet Mills waves to parade goers Saturday as she walks in the Chester Greenwood Day Parade in Farmington. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Mills wore a pair of cheetah-print earmuffs purchased at the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies in downtown Farmington.

Area residents and natives traditionally enjoy the day because it is “a huge claim to fame and a great honor for Farmington,” said New Sharon resident Laura Harris, who said she has attended the parade since its very first iteration.

“It makes us proud that someone from Farmington, Maine, put us on the map so long ago,” added Mike Blanchet.

Parade float themes included camps and Christmas tree farms.

The winners of the float competition were Foster Tech Career and Technical Center in the adult category and Regional School Unit 9 in the youth category. Runners-up included Mt. Blue Nordic Skiers, who rolled along the parade route on roller skis.

Locals were extra excited for the return of a live Chester Greenwood Day after it was cancelled last year due to COVID-19 safety guidelines.

“We are trying to get back into the swing of things, bring more outside events,” said Franklin County Chamber of Commerce Director Scott Lavertu as he handed out cupcakes decorated with snowmen donning earmuffs. “It’s invigorating for the community for (the event) to return.”

Many people wore unique earmuffs, including those featuring reindeer antlers and snowflakes. People who might have turned up without a pair were in luck: Stores all over town were selling earmuffs just in case.

Car windows, the entrance to the post office and Titcomb House donned giant iterations of Greenwood’s iconic invention as well.

Conditions were cold and bright Saturday as roller skiers rounded the first corner of the Chester Greenwood Day Parade in Farmington. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Dominique Rollins, of Norridgewock, said seeing all the earmuffs felt “nostalgic.”

Local business owners were also happy to see the in-person celebration return because it encouraged people to shop local and highlighted the importance of area businesses.

“It brings about more joy and the spirit of entrepreneurship,” said Bonita Lehigh, director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, an organization that was also selling items from local vendors. “Chester Greenwood embodied the spirit of entrepreneurship.”


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