By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Marlborough – The Marlborough Historical Society added some decorated trees to its Christmas at the Farm, held at their Peter Rice Homestead in 2008. That has grown to become the seventh annual Metrowest Festival of Trees at the Royal Plaza Trade Center. Festivities are scheduled for Friday, Dec. 12, 5 to 9 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 13, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday, Dec. 14, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The event is co-produced with Olde Marlborough, Inc., of which Bob Kane is executive director. Kane is also vice president and curator of the Historical Society, and the festival organizer since its inception. He’s looking forward to the festival’s third year at the trade center.
“It’s a good venue because it gives us 47,000-square-feet to be creative and offer much more to people for their dollar,” he said. “At the homestead, we started with 17 trees; this year we’ll have between 100 and 125 trees and wreaths.”
Businesses, organizations and individuals sponsor the decorated trees and wreaths, which are raffle prizes.
The festival outgrew the homestead within its first three years and moved in 2011 to the Hellenic Hall at Sts. Anargyroi Church. There, it included six crafters. This year, 77 artisans and crafters will offer unique opportunities for holiday shoppers, Kane noted.
”The majority of the crafters’ items are handmade,” he said. “There are also vendors with honey, cannoli and pastries. Dickens Village has British pastries.”
New this year at Dickens Village, a professional quartet known as Olde Towne Carolers will stroll and serenade Saturday, noon to 9 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
“We rent two big, theatrical backdrops of old Victorian streets,” Kane explained. “We’re putting crafters there who are geared toward that era.”
A miniature Victorian Village with over 100 buildings and two trains attracts the attention of every generation. A camera attached to the mini-locomotive captures its movement, which is projected onto a screen.
“That always mesmerizes everyone,” Kane noted.
The trains are owned by Glenn Foley, a Historical Society trustee. The village was donated by Patty Hogan, a former downtown merchant. Signage identifies buildings including Concannon’s, a store that was owned by the late John Noble.
Further creating a nostalgic ambience, the festival will welcome back Santa’s Workshop with Bob LeDuc of Wooden Toys & Crafts. Children can also enjoy North Pole Play Land with several amusements including a carousel. Guests of all ages can visit Candy Land with old-fashioned treats provided by the Wayside Country Store.
An entertainment stage will host several acts. Women of Note, the Hudson-based a cappella chorus, will perform Friday evening. The First Church of Marlborough Bell Ringers are scheduled for Saturday at 11 a.m. Marlborough High School students will also participate as entertainers.
“Santa Claus is always the biggest entertainer,” Kane noted.
Mr. Claus will take the stage between acts throughout the weekend. Some adults might notice Santa’s resemblance to Greg Brewster, the retired Marlborough police officer.
In its third year, the Gingerbread Village competition includes three categories, ranging from hobbyists to professionals.
“We’ve increased the incentive for our Gingerbread Village this year by offering $500 in cash prizes,” Kane announced.
The festival benefits historical programs and activities in the Metrowest area.
“The homestead was nice for atmosphere, but we’re doing this as our major fundraiser,” Kane said. “History is at the bottom of the food chain when it comes to trying to get grants from foundations and corporations. We have to be creative to raise funds.”
Deadline to apply for tree sponsorship and Gingerbread Village is Monday, Dec. 8. For applications and other event information, visit metrowestfot.org.