The fourth annual Midcoast Tree Festival opens this Friday, and I’m incredibly excited for the return of this wonderful community event. The Midcoast Tree Festival runs the weekends before and after Thanksgiving and is bigger than ever this year. When I call it “the best,” it’s because I think it’s the best community event our chamber is involved with — here are 10 reasons why:

It kicks off the holiday season

The holidays really are a special time, and though admittedly tough for some people, most will agree there is a different feeling in the air come December. This event, being holiday-centric, extends that feeling a few extra weeks into November and really gets people thinking about the season. You can actually see the families that stop by embracing the season as they work on children’s crafts, have a hot cocoa or hum to the holiday music while they look at the trees. In that same vein …

It may knock out your holiday blues

Seeing children’s eyes light up at the trees and the gifts is wonderful to behold. Dozens of times a day you’ll see kids dragging their parents to go see a tree space they want. With oversized walkways, there is plenty of room to go to and fro and put some extra tickets in for a tree you liked but maybe passed already. Also, when the winners come to claim their gifts, well, it would fill even the biggest Grinch heart.

It’s affordable to attend and participate

Admission is $2, and children under 12 are free. 50/50 tickets are $1 apiece. Tree raffle tickets are 50 cents apiece. Children’s crafts are free. Entertainment is free. Concessions are extremely reasonable. In a time when everything seems to be so expensive, the MFT remains exceedingly affordable. That’s a big deal that the bar of entry and engagement is so low. We want all the families to be able to come in and see the holiday magic.

It’s bigger than ever

At time of writing, we have a dozen more trees than last year, with the final number expected to land at or above 40 trees! It has been overwhelming to welcome back some tree spaces who were involved in some, if not all, of the first three years and then to have new tree spaces emerge, too. Our highest value of gifts had been around $27,000 in year’s past. We are blowing that away this year as we expect to have over $40,000 in gifts going to 35-40 lucky winners.

Mega Tree is back

It’s year number two for our oversized, full festival tree sponsored by Priority Real Estate. Each tree space donates one item to Mega Tree, and other donations are gathered for Mega Tree, making it the biggest prize in the room. It should be noted, unlike most tree spaces, you do not win the oversized tree itself — however, you will get a trophy tree saying you were the winner and over $5,000 in prizes. There is no special Mega Tree ticket — you just use the same 50 cent tree raffle tickets.

Advertisement

Best of the Fest is back

Some of our favorite tree sponsors are back this year, as Hammond Lumber has an enormous display once again, and Midcoast Federal Credit Union looks to defend their title as a Best of the Fest Trees. Basically, at the end of the festival we weigh the ticket bags to see which were most popular (Mega Tree not included), and Hammond Lumber and Midcoast Federal Credit Union were the top two, while All Saints Parish came in third. Midcoast FCU has been a best of the fest every year with their stellar decorations.

Of course, we are so thankful for every tree, but it’s nice to have a friendly competition, too, which is exactly how everyone takes it.

Crazy good entertainment this year

We put out the call to some entertainers on our wish list and we are so lucky they have come through! Here is a list of the entertainment we have booked to this point (again free with admission):

• Friday, Nov. 18, 6-7 p.m. Maine Marimba Ensemble.
• Saturday, Nov. 19, 1-2 p.m. Peter Boie, magician; and 4-5 p.m. Libby Matthews, singer.
• Sunday, Nov. 20, 1-2 p.m. Sparks’ Ark, animal experts; and 4-5 p.m. Maine Youth Orchestra.
• Friday, Nov. 26, 1-4 p.m. (confirmation pending).
• Saturday, Nov. 27, 11 a.m. to noon St. John’s Catholic School Choir; 1-3 p.m. Your Caricature Artists, Melita Lewis; and 4-5 p.m. Playing for Laughs Improv Theater Troupe.
• Sunday, Nov. 28, 10 a.m. to noon visit from Santa.

Businesses step up

One unbelievable statistic is how many businesses get represented at the festival. Naturally, the 40 tree sponsors all participate to an enormous degree putting their time, efforts and money towards building elaborate tree spaces. Yet the further you look on the trees, you will notice items and gift cards that were either purchased at or, more often than you would think, donated by local businesses. Annually, we have over 100 different businesses and organizations that participate in the Midcoast Tree Festival.

It’s a good fundraiser and a fundraiser for good

The proceeds for the event get evenly split between All Saints Parish, Spectrum Generations Meals on Wheels Program and our chamber, and they are three worthy programs who give back to the community (for the chamber, these funds will support our workforce programming in the region). However, it’s also a good fundraiser in that at 50 cents a ticket, no one is getting price gouged. At $500 minimum tree value, the tree sponsors get great recognition for that commitment. Nobody loses on this event.

See the trees online

Our Midcoast Tree Festival Facebook page is heavily viewed, but we’re starting to get great traction on our dedicated event webpage. The trees will be posted Friday afternoon on midcoasttreefestival.com, so check them out before you stop in!

Cory King is executive director of the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber of Commerce.

Comments are not available on this story.