Commander Stephen Bunker, left, of the American Legion Post 28 leads the color guard as they march down Main Street in Farmington on Saturday for Chester Greenwood Day. Brian Ponce/Franklin Journal

FARMINGTON — Bundled up with hot cocoa in their hands and earmuffs firmly place on their heads, hundreds of Franklin County residents gathered Saturday in downtown Farmington to honor the town’s most famous resident, Chester Greenwood. The Maine inventor changed how we enjoy wintery weather forever with the invention of the earmuff.

Born in Farmington in December 1858, Greenwood was merely a teenager when he came up with the idea of the earmuff. An avid ice skater, Greenwood was looking for ways to keep his ears warm and had his grandmother fasten beaver fur to a wire frame which he wrapped around his head.

A desk and typewriters that once belonged to Chester Greenwood is displayed at Titcomb House museum, on loan to the Farmington Historical Society by the Greenwood family for Chester Greenwood Day on Saturday. Brian Ponce/Franklin Journal

The crude design gave Greenwood the template he needed to start his business. Patenting the idea by the age of 18, Greenwood turned Farmington into the “earmuff capital of the world,” with his factory producing 400,000 pairs annually at the time of his death in 1937.

Greenwood did more than just earmuffs, however. His inventions, which included the steel-tooth rake, wide-bottom kettle, folding bed, decoy mouse trap, donut hook and shock absorber design still being used for aircraft landing gear to this day, led to him being called one of the most outstanding American inventors of the 20th century by the Smithsonian Institution.

Celebrated on the first Saturday of December, Chester Greenwood Day has been a part of Farmington’s yearly holiday tradition since 1977, when a bill to designate a day for Greenwood was sponsored by state Rep. Richard G. Morton. Until then, the only commemorated days were Statehood Day (March 15) and Maine Poetry Day (Oct. 15).

Greenwood would go on to be the first individual in Maine to have a commemorative day in honor of him.

The Kora Karts dart around Main Street on Saturday for Chester Greenwood Day. Brian Ponce/Franklin Journal

The event delivered numerous activities, such as craft fairs and baked goods at the American Legion Post 28 and St. Joseph’s Center. The Farmington Historical Society offered guided tours of the Octagon House, while the Titcomb House museum offered a view of some of the Greenwood’s belongings, such as his desk and typewriters as well as Isabel Greenwood’s wedding dress.

Hot cocoa and popcorn were served in abundances as onlookers crowded the sides of Main Street in Farmington for the parade, which featured floats from Franklin Savings Bank, Skowhegan Savings Bank, Mt. Blue High School, Foster Career and Tech Education Center and more.

The theme for this year was “Celebrate Maine!” and many took that opportunity to build their floats around everything they love about Maine, including ice fishing, camping and even a lobster costume.

Santa Claus, who sometimes moonlights as Farmington resident Ernest Lowell, who swapped his sleigh for a vintage Ford Mustang, waves to the crowd on Saturday in honor of Chester Greenwood Day. Brian Ponce/Franklin Journal

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