Holidays in Maine downtowns

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Norway’s Main Street, one of the longest walking Main Streets in Western Maine, has undergone many ups and downs throughout its history.

The great fire of 1893 destroyed most of the businesses and devastated the local economy. A lot of hard work and the devotion and determination of business people and residents alike brought Main Street back to its former glory.

Throughout most of the 20th century the downtown area was the heart of Norway. During the Christmas season, the colored lights strung across the street, the warm glow from all the retails stores that stayed open in the evening and the sounds of holiday music created a scenic and festive shopping district.

Then came the shopping malls and box stores enticing shoppers away from Main Street. Small retail merchants couldn’t compete and many had to close. During the late 1900s and early 2000, Main Street looked deserted with the exception of a few determined merchants.

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Once again, hard work, devotion and determination is bringing Main Street back with a healthy heart. The renovated Opera House provides some shopping options, but other areas of Main Street are blossoming as well.

Lively Accents, at 310 Main Street, has a vast inventory of handcrafted jewelry of tourmaline and other Maine stones and sea glass. Owner/operator Cathy Murphy designs and creates all the jewelry and shares her knowledge with jewelry-making classes.

“I’ve just celebrated my first year here on Main Street,” said Murphy. “And it has been a pretty good year.”

Gift certificates and lay-aways are available as well as prices to fit every budget.

For Christmas, Lively Accents allows people to fill out a wish list that husband or whomever can consult to assist in their holiday shopping.

Lively Accents is open Monday to Thursday and Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Friday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. You can find them on Facebook, at www.livelyaccents.com and by calling 207-743-0360.

Across the street at 329 Main, the Green Machine Bike Shop offers high-quality bikes for all abilities and ages and repair services for any make of bicycle. In spite of the name, fans of winter will find a nice selection of alpine and telemark skis and accessories; they also do stone-grind ski tunes.

“We do year round rentals,” said owner John Harvey. “And, new this year just in time for Christmas is the Fat Bike with over-sized tires that can go in the snow.”

Another interesting gift idea is the “Be Cool Trainer” — a bicycle training simulator on which people can go online and ride or compete with others from the comfort of home.

Bikes and skis can be put on lay away and gift certificates are also available.

“People can check our Facebook page for upcoming events and holiday specials,” said Angela Harvey, co-owner with her husband.

Winter hours are Wednesday and Thursday from 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. and Friday 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. The website is www.greenmachinebikeshop.com and telephone 207-739-2324.

Right next door at 333 Main is the Great Kingdom Emporium. A mother-and-daughter team of Gloria Jean Mulcahy and Lisa-Jean Veyera, who have created, in their words, an “Almost magical, clearly whimsical” store environment of hand-painted furniture, decorative pillows, vintage fabrics, collectibles and some antiques.

“We buy unloved furniture and make it loveable again,” said Veyera.

“This store is what we have always dreamed of for the two of us,” added her mother.

For the holiday season, Mulcahy has made a variety of whimsical and beautiful Christmas stockings and Veyera has made a nice assortment of fun and interesting Christmas ornaments.

Shoppers can buy gift certificates or do a lay away at the Great Kingdom Emporium. Store hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Check their Facebook page for Sunday hours or call 207-570-9899.

A little farther up Main Street shoppers can satisfy a sweet tooth at Jennicakes Bake Shop at 434 Main Street where they will be tempted by the delicious variety of cupcakes and other pastries.

“We make everything from scratch and bake it right here,” said Jennifer Billings, owner and head baker.

As well as cupcakes and pastries, chicken, turkey and pork pies are available on Thursdays and homebaked Jacob’s Cattle Beans on Saturday. There is the soup of the day served with homemade bread that can be consumed there or to go. Custom cakes for all occasions can be ordered.

Jennicake Bake Shop is taking orders for Christmas pies, which include pork pie made from a French Canadian recipe, pecan pie made without corn syrup for a healthier alternative and traditional fruit pies.

Jennicakes also does catering and will do office Christmas parties with dessert platters and other savory goodies.

Store hours are Monday thru Friday 7 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday 7 a.m.-4 p.m. You can find them on Facebook or call 207-739-2138 to place orders and to schedule catering.

RIVER VALLEY AREA

Breakfast with Santa

Breakfast with Santa, a fundraiser for Dirigo High School Class of 2017, will take place from 8-10:30 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 7 in the Region 9 cafeteria, 377 River Rd., Mexico. Breakfast includes pancakes, sausage, juice and coffee. Cost is $3 per ticket. Tickets available at Dirigo Elementary School, Dirigo High School and Region 9. Bring your cameras. Photo opportunities available. All children may visit with Santa and will receive a small gift from him.

Festival of Wreaths in Canton

Canton Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary will be hosting their second annual Festival of Wreaths from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 6-7. Ticket cost is six for $5 or $1 each. Consider donating a wreath of your choice/theme to be included in their raffle. Contact an auxiliary member for details. Visit the Canton Fire Department on any of the display dates to view the wreaths and purchase tickets for a chance to win one or more wreaths (depending on the luck of the draw). Visit Facebook at CVFD Auxiliary to contact them or see photos from last year’s festival. Proceeds are used to supplement the town’s fire department budget and disaster relief to fire victims.

Home Made For The Holidays in Rumford

The Rumford United Methodist Church will display their Home Made For The Holidays wares from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6, at the Christmas in the Valley Craft Fair at Mountain Valley High School. For more information, call 207-392-1285.

Festival of Trees show

Rumford Performing Arts Committee will hold its sixth annual Festival of Trees show on Saturday, Dec. 13 in the Rumford Falls Auditorium. The doors will open at 5:30 p.m. and the show will begin at 6:30 p.m. Applications for those who would like to sponsor a tree are available to be picked up at the town hall. Lighted spots are limited. For questions, call 207-418-9067.

Children’s Christmas Celebration in Dixfield

Dixfield American Legion Family Children’s Christmas Celebration will take place from 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6. For ages up to fifth grade, there will be a special gift drawing, for which each child can receive a ticket by bringing a canned good to donate to the local food pantry. Santa will arrive at 2 p.m.

Craft fair in Andover

The Andover Firemen’s Association is putting on a craft fair on Dec. 6 at The Andover Fire Station. For more information, call 207-392-1140.

FRANKLIN COUNTY

On Saturday, Dec. 6, Chester Greenwood Day, our annual celebration of Farmington resident Chester Greenwood, the inventor of earmuffs will take place with a holiday movies theme. Greenwood was only 15 years old 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 & Company factory was producing and shipping champion ear protectors worldwide. In 1936, the company had its biggest year producing 400,000 pairs of earmuffs.

The annual Chester Greenwood Day is hosted by the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce and takes place the first Saturday in December, bringing thousands to the area to watch and/or participate in the hour-long parade. Cash prizes are awarded for floats entered in the parade. This year’s theme is “Holiday Movies” and earmuffs must be worn on participating floats.

Sample the chili in Meetinghouse Park after the parade, and warm up from the inside out as you enjoy the annual Chili Challenge. Or head to Bangor Savings Bank on Main Street to view the wonderful gingerbread houses that many have spent hours creating in the annual Gingerbread House Contest. Those who attend may also enjoy a tasty piece of cake in honor of Chester Greenwood.

As you stroll through the downtown area, you’ll see folks of all ages having great fun while shopping, enjoying food from the wonderful eateries, or viewing the trees at the Rotary Club’s Festival of Trees event at the historic North Church. You may even run into one of Greenwood’s family members as many make the trek to Farmington each year to participate in the parade and visit with relatives who still live locally. Musicians and carolers from Mt. Blue High School and the University of Maine at Farmington will line the streets and corners sharing beautiful songs and carols for passersby.

Visit the Chamber website to learn how to become involved in this year’s Chester Greenwood Day, including parade registration forms, Chili and Gingerbread contest entry forms and more!

Other events taking place on Saturday, Dec. 6, include a Gingerbread House Display at Bangor Savings, a Chili Contest in the Gazebo at Meetinghouse Park, and a Polar Bear Dip in Clearwater Lake at 3 p.m. 

Saturday, Dec. 13 — Santa Loop in Downtown Farmington. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Free horse drawn wagon rides to area downtown businesses for children’s events. Visit Santa at the Homestead Bakery (photos available for a small fee). Mr. Claus will be available from 10 a.m – 1 p.m at the Homestead to listen to children’s requests, and for photo opportunities. Keep up with all the downtown events by liking their Facebook page at facebook.com/downtownfarmingtonME.

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