By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Marlborough – In 2008, the Marlborough Historical Society added 17 decorated trees to its Christmas at the Farm, an event held at its quaint Peter Rice Homestead. That simple idea has evolved to become this year’s eighth annual Metrowest Festival of Trees, expected to feature over 125 trees and wreaths displayed alongside other attractions for the fourth year at the 47,500-square-foot Best Western Royal Plaza Trade Center.
The festival benefits the Marlborough Historical Society, of which event chair Bob Kane is curator. He notes that the larger venue accommodates more activities, which in turn can raise additional funds.
“The homestead was nice for atmosphere, but we’re doing this as our major fundraiser,” Kane explained. “Families can go there and have fun, do holiday shopping and maybe win a tree. We wanted to make it a multifaceted event for all ages.”
Businesses, organizations and community leaders sponsor the decorated artificial trees, which are prizes of a raffle. Trees range in height from two- to 7-1/2 feet.
About 77 vendors including artisans and crafters will offer unique opportunities for holiday shoppers. Among the expected items are cannoli, crocheted pieces, decorated tiles, honey, jewelry and ornaments.
A miniature Victorian Village with over 100 buildings and trains is a multigenerational favorite attraction. A camera attached to a mini-locomotive captures its movement, which is projected onto a screen. 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.
“Those downtown stores are well-remembered by a lot of people – like me,” Kane noted. “People get a kick out of the whole concept of the village with the trains going around.”
Further creating a nostalgic ambience is Santa’s Workshop with Bob LeDuc of Wooden Toys & Crafts. Children can visit North Pole Play Land with several amusements including a carousel. Guests of all ages will enjoy Candy Land with old-fashioned treats provided by the Wayside Country Store. Theatrical backdrops surround an area known as Dickens Village.
For the second year, the professional quartet Olde Towne Carolers will stroll and serenade Saturday and Sunday afternoons into the early evenings. An entertainment stage will host several acts including the First Church of Marlborough Bell Ringers, beginning late-morning Saturday; the Hudson-based Women of Note a cappella chorus Saturday afternoon; and pianist and singer Ed McCarron throughout the weekend. Also taking the stage each day will be Santa Claus meeting children.
“Santa is always the biggest entertainer,” Kane added.
In its fourth year, the Gingerbread Village competition includes two categories, novice and experienced, as well as a People’s Choice Award. Prizes will total $1,000.
“Gingerbread Village gets bigger and bigger each year,” Kane said.
In addition to benefiting Marlborough historical programs, the fundraiser helps toward maintenance of the Peter Rice Homestead, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, Kane noted.
“We have an old, 1688 homestead that costs us about $6,600 a year to heat and constantly needs small repairs,” he said. “We house thousands of Marlborough artifacts in there. I think it’s very important to preserve Marlborough’s history. We decided to get creative and produce something that people of all ages would enjoy, and help us raise the money needed.”
Festivities are scheduled for Friday, Dec. 11, 5 to 9 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 12, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday, Dec. 13, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Deadline to apply for tree sponsorship and Gingerbread Village entries is Monday, Dec. 7.
For applications and other event information, visit metrowestfot.org. For information about the Marlborough Historical Society visit historicmarlborough.org and on Facebook at facebook.com/MarlboroughHistoricalSociety.