FARMINGTON — Decorating a Christmas tree for the Rotary Club’s Festival of Trees is a group effort at the Pierce House.

From choosing a theme — this year it’s the “12 Days of Christmas” — to making handmade ornaments, residents and staff have worked together to decorate a tree each year for the festival since the beginning, administrator Darlene Mooar said as a group worked Wednesday.

The Festival of Trees moved this year to Saturday, Dec. 10, with viewing from noon to 5 p.m. in the North Dining Hall at the University of Maine at Farmington. For the past 12 years, the Rotary has held the festival of beautifully decorated trees at the Granary on Chester Greenwood Day.

The restaurant closing forced the change but it’s turning out to be a good thing, Rotarian Carolyn Eaton said. The normal of 20 decorated trees has expanded to 24 trees this year, she said.

Organizations and businesses from all over the county have signed on to prepare a tree for the festival and auction. They choose the theme, provide the decorations and decorate the trees donated by Conifers Unlimited. Rotary members deliver the auctioned trees to the highest bidders on Sunday morning, she said.

The public is welcome to view the trees and bid on a variety of items in a silent auction and raffle from 12 to 5 p.m. Saturday during the festival. Musical groups will perform, including the Franklin County Fiddlers at noon, the Mt. Blue Jazz Band at 4:30 p.m. and Mt. Blue’s Syncopations following the auction of trees at 6 p.m.

This year a buffet dinner is planned for 7 p.m. There is limited seating and a $30 charge per person for the meal, so Eaton recommends pre-purchasing tickets from Gloria McGraw at County Seat Realty on Anson Street.

There is no charge for viewing the trees, wreaths and kissing balls, which fill the dining hall, or to attend the auction.

“We thought the 12 Days of Christmas theme would be easy,” Mooar said as the group worked. “Some years and themes are easier than others. Some years we’re done in June. Some years it’s December.”

There’s 12 drums, five golden rings, two turtle doves, glittering pears, nine lady fabric templates and more ready for the tree, she said.

“It brings joy to the residents to know that it’s something that will bring joy to someone else,” she said of the tree that will be auctioned off Saturday night.

The Pierce House itself is already decorated in preparation for their holiday open house 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 18, she said. Everyone in the community is welcome to stop by for a holiday visit.

For the Rotarians, the event is a group effort, with most of them involved in planning, setting up and delivery of the trees, Eaton said.

The event is a fundraising activity that supports about 50 different organizations helped by the club. 

“Our motto is service above self,” she said of the local to worldwide organizations they help. “We support a lot of things that help children, including scholarships for Mt. Blue and Mt. Abram high school students.”

The talents shown still amaze Eaton — even in this 13th year. The high school Rotary group, Interact Club, will have a Boston Bruins-themed tree, the Early Act club at Mallett is considering a chocolate theme, she said.

By the end of Saturday, Eaton knows most of the trees for next year will already be booked. There’s a little friendly competition among tree decorators, although no two have done the same theme any year, she said.

For more information or tickets contact McGraw at 778-2755.

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.