FARMINGTON — It’s not about the Christmas tree, nor the cost — it’s about giving back to the community, Lois Bubier said of the tree she paid $3,600 for at the Farmington Rotary Club’s annual Festival of Trees.
The bidding on a tree called “Woodland Creatures,” sponsored by Franklin Memorial Hospital’s Surgical Services, kept going up and up as Bubier and an anesthesiologist at FMH countered bids.
He gave up at $3,500 and left her to take the tree, she said.
The bidding is a nearly annual ritual between the two, although she doesn’t know him well.
A couple of years ago, she bid against him and drove the price up before leaving him to pay $2,800 for a tree, she said.
This year, he shook her hand and gave her a hug after the auction Saturday night.
“We’re even now,” she said he told her. He thanked her for not attending this year’s United Way auction and leaving it open for him.
“It’s fun. I look forward to it every year,” Bubier said of the Festival of Trees auction.
It was a nice tree, covered with owls and small animals such as rabbits, raccoons and porcupines, said Martha Wing, president-elect of the Farmington Rotary Club and an organizer of the event.
A total of 22 trees, decorated and supplied by local organizations and businesses, were on display at Old North Church during the town’s Chester Greenwood Day celebration. The trees were auctioned off and delivered to the highest bidder by Rotary members.
“We were all astounded,” Wing said as the bidding rose on Bubier’s tree. “Even auctioneer Jeff Harris was flabbergasted.”
The group does well with the annual event. This year, the auction of trees brought in a total of $14,000, which will be used for the club’s scholarships and other local needs.
It all goes back into the community, Wing said.
And that was what it was all about for Bubier.
As she looked around the packed room Saturday night, she saw Rotary members and community members who support her small business all year, she said. Bubier and her husband, Jon, own Ron’s Market in Farmington.
“We both believe in giving back to the community,” she said. “It was nice to give and support what the group believes in and the causes they help.”
The auctioned trees sold for prices ranging from $175 to Bubier’s $3,600, Wing said. A tree supplied by Friends of Front Street went for $1,200.
The Rotary Club raffled a tree this year which had nearly $900 in gift certificates on it. Raffle tickets were sold at $5 each and the tree raised $2,000. A bicycle sponsored by Dead River Co., where Rotary Club President Sally Dyer is employed, went with the tree, Wing said.
The local group is the only one that hosts Rotary groups for elementary school through university students. The club sponsors EarlyAct for students at Mallett School, and NextAct for students at Cascade Brook School. Impact is the name of the middle school group, and Interact is for students at Mt. Blue High School. Rotaract is a group at the University of Maine at Farmington.
Each student group supplied a decorated tree and will choose where the funds raised from their tree will go, Wing said.