The annual Festival of Trees is being held this weekend and the weekend following Thanksgiving at The Elm on College Avenue in Waterville. People on Friday look over merchandise and decorated trees.. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

WATERVILLE — Despite an uncertain future earlier this year, the Festival of Trees has returned to Waterville and people are encouraged to stop by this weekend and next.

“It’s really a lot of fun, it really puts you in the Christmas spirit, it’s full of generous people, volunteers and Christmas music and a great time,” said Crista Lavenson, director of advancement at the Alfond Youth and Community Center and one of the festival organizers. “I think everybody should come on down, you will not be disappointed.”

The festival will run Saturday from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m.; Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Nov. 26 and 27 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Nov. 28 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. The event is being held at The Elm, 21 College Ave. Tickets for entry are $2, and free for children 12 and younger. The tree drawing tickets are 50 cents each.

There are 52 Christmas trees on display, each colorfully decorated, and attendees can enter drawings to win the tree itself and all the merchandise displayed with it. The drawings for each tree will be held Nov. 28 around 5 p.m.

Brooke Nichols of Benton judges a Christmas tree at the annual Festival of Trees at The Elm on College Avenue on Friday. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

The event began in 2015 and was hosted by the Sukeforth family as a fundraiser for charities in the area. Doug and Rita Sukeforth owned the successful Mid-State Machine company for 30 years before selling it in 1998. In 2018, the event raised over $200,000 and drew around 13,000 people. The family didn’t hold it last year because of the pandemic and in August the family announced they would stop hosting the festival.

But the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce and Alfond Youth and Community Center stepped in to take over the event. The money raised will be divided between the two groups, with the Alfond Center using the money for programs to address food insecurity, and the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce using it for workforce development programs.

“It’s just been a cherished event in this area,” Lavenson said. “We were thrilled to have the opportunity to keep it going.”

The festival is staffed by volunteers and organizers are still looking for people to work next weekend, Lavenson said. Those interested should email [email protected] for more information.

The annual Festival of Trees is being held this weekend and the weekend following Thanksgiving at The Elm on College Avenue in Waterville. Decorations are shown Friday on one of the trees on display. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

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