A mother and her child partake in a torch-lighting ceremony at the Maine Beershed’s “Solstice Party” in Kingfield Tuesday, Dec. 21. The torch lighting ceremony, in which children gradually lit each torch on the spiral path, was to signify the Winter Solstice and the daylight that will now return following the longest day of the year. The Beershed held the party with the torch lighting, a hot-chocolate fundraiser and ornament making to celebrate the Winter Solstice. Kay Neufeld/Franklin Journal

KINGFIELD — The Winter Solstice marks the longest night of the year and the brighter days that lay in the future. To celebrate the return of daylight, the Maine Beershed in Kingfield held a “Solstice Party” Tuesday, Dec. 21.

Families and locals alike gathered to celebrate the solstice, partake in activities like a torch lighting ceremony, drink homemade hot chocolate, make bird feeders and listen to live music.

The event was coordinated by the Beershed’s owners, including Kate Raye.

Raye said that there were multiple intentions to the event: to host a holiday event that brings the community together and honor the “new beginning” of the solstice.

“Moving back to Maine was intense for us, in general, as far as getting dark really early. So in that introverted time of year where we felt like everybody pretty much keeps to themselves … to have this kind of celebration that summer will come was a big deal for us,” Raye said in a phone interview following the event.

“Having a holiday event that was celebratory for us of the darkest day of the year in Western Maine seemed like a really good place to start with community events,” she added.


Raye said that, to her, the solstice represents “the coming of light.”

“This time of year everybody goes inward,” Raye said. “We wanted to celebrate that the light is coming back and we can all get together.”

The most eye-catching activity at the party was a torch-lighting ceremony. In the ceremony, children walked a spiral and lit each torch that lined the path one-by-one, using the fire from a previous post to light the next. The ceremony was inspired by a “traditional Waldorf school celebration,” Raye said.

Raye explained that the Waldorf spiral, which uses candles rather than torches, sends the kids on the spiral path to walk in darkness, carry the light at the center that represents the “inner light we all carry” and spread the fire in a way that “spreads the light, goodness [within] themselves” out into the world.

“I hope it was just as special and inspiring for [the kids],” Raye said.

During the event, attendees expressed a similar love for the solstice and what it symbolizes.


Mary Nodine of Kingfield, said that, on the flipside, she also considered the party “a celebration of the longest night of the year.”

Nodine brought along her son, three-year-old Harry Aubrecht, bundled head to toe in snow gear. She said Harry enjoyed being out, playing with other kids in the snow.

“He’s three, so he loves candles,” Nodine said. “He loved lighting the torches one by one.”

Adults gathered around fire pits on snow-covered ground, chatting about the solstice and catching up. Around them, children bundled in ski suits and snow boots ran around and played in the snow, some throwing snowballs. The joyful screams of children were what could be heard most while outside.

Attendee Daniel Gassett also loved that the party offered the opportunity to support local businesses, organizations and the overall community.

Proceeds from the homemade hot chocolate, made by the Maine Mountain Children’s House, were donated to charities.


Invite the Wild, a Farmington-based band, performs at The Maine Beershed’s “Solstice Party” in Kingfield Tuesday, Dec. 21. The Beershed held the party with a torch lighting, a hot-chocolate fundraiser and ornament making to celebrate the Winter Solstice. Kay Neufeld/Franklin Journal

Inside the greenhouse, Invite the Wild was performing some covers, including Fleetwood Mac’s “Black Magic Woman,” made famous by Carlos Santana.

Adjacent to the band, children were decorating pine cones with bird seed to take home and use as natural bird feeders in their yards.

Attendees were also happy “to have something going on” amid the lull of winter and the COVID-19 pandemic, said Kali Lander.

But every attendee went back to what the solstice represents: a continuation in the cycle of life, a symbol of brighter days ahead.

Maggie Wey, the Beershed’s employee, said that she considers the solstice “our Christmas” which brings in the light “that’s going to return” as “the cycle continues.”

“I believe everything is on a wheel that goes through the cycle,” Wey said. “Winter is a time to rest and dream for when spring returns.”

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