A banner announcing Chester Greenwood Day leads off the parade Saturday for the annual event in Farmington. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

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.

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.

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

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 Livermore Falls Advertiser 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.”

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 highlights what makes Farmington special.

“It’s a huge claim to fame . . . a great honor for Farmington,” said New-Sharon resident Laura Harris, who has attended the parade since its very first iteration. “When my kids were younger, I was so excited to share Chester’s history; that he was from where I was from.”

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

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

Parade float themes included camps, harbors and Christmas tree farms.

The Cape Cod Hill Elementary School Parent-Teacher Organization marched through the parade with a “Camp Cape Cod Hill” float.

“The teachers wanted to get involved,” said PTO Co-President Liz Tracy. “We like to engage with the community.”

Sara Pinkham said that though it might be a bit unorthodox for a summer-themed float in December, they thought camp was the best embodiment of the Vacationland theme.

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.

Scott Lavertu, director of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce that coordinated the day, said that it felt special to bring the festivities back.

“We are trying to get back into the swing of things, bring more outside events,” Lavertu said as he handed out cupcakes decorated with snowmen donning earmuffs.. “It’s invigorating for the community for (the event) to return. Especially on a gorgeous day like today.”

Clyde Ross, portraying Chester Greenwood, waves to parade goers Saturday at the start of the Chester Greenwood Day Parade in Farmington. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

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.

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

Moreso, she appreciated the day because it brings Farmington’s “tight community . . . together.”

“It means a lot to come together,” Rollins said.

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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