Justin Waring and Jeanine Jarvis look at the People’s Salon & Spa Christmas tree display at the Sukeforth Family Festival of Trees at The Elm in Waterville in November 2019. The Sukeforth family is no longer involved in the festival, which is to return this year, hosted by the Alfond Youth & Community Center. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel file

WATERVILLE — The annual Festival of Trees is set to kick off later this month at The Elm on College Avenue and run over two long weekends, according to organizers.

The festival, hosted by the Alfond Youth & Community Center, is expected to feature 53 themed trees decorated for the holidays and flanked with many gifts to be given away.

The event benefits nonprofit organizations that provide aid to those contending with food insecurity and agencies developing workforce readiness programs.

Thousands of people are typically drawn to the festival, where they can buy 10 tickets for $5 and place them in containers next to the trees they wish to win.

The trees and gifts are donated by area businesses and nonprofit organizations, and one particular tree and the gifts beneath it are valued at $4,000, according to Felicia Lambert, who co-chairs the festival with Gary Poulin.

“Most of our trees range from $1,000 on up,” Lambert said Wednesday.


The festival is scheduled to be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 18 and 19; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Nov. 20; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 25 and 26; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 27.

Admission is $2 for those 13 or older and free for children up to 12 years old.

The Elm is at 21 College Ave., next to the U.S. Post Office.

The drawings to determine tree and gift winners are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. on Nov. 27.

In addition to the drawings, festivalgoers can enter a 50-50 drawing offered each day of the festival, with winners announced at the end of each day. A person could win up to a few thousand dollars, according to Lambert.

“It feels like you are at the North Pole,” Lambert said of the hall lined with decorated trees. “It’s like a winter wonderland. You never know who could show up. I mean, Santa could. I know elves are going to.”


State rules require drawing tickets be purchased with cash, so an ATM will be on-site.

About 40 volunteers a day are needed for the festival to coordinate admissions, sell tickets and handle the 50-50 drawing, according to Lambert. Each volunteer works a two-hour shift.

More volunteers are needed and those interested should contact Bonnie McBreairty, volunteer coordinator, at the Alfond Center at 207-873-0684.

Lambert said 53 trees is the limit this year because state rules limit the value of the trees and gifts to $75,000.

Doug and Rita Sukeforth and their family hosted the tree festival for many years, but ended that tradition in 2021, citing the unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic.

They raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charities over the years.

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