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Houlton’s Festival of Trees sets new fund-raising record

HOULTON, Maine — It was another record-breaking year for the Health Services Foundation’s Festival of Trees.

Not even a strange weather pattern that included higher-than-usual temperatures for some of the days, followed by the first snowstorm of the season, could keep people from showing up for this year’s holiday celebration.

A record-breaking $71,000 was raised at this year’s event, smashing last year’s record of $55,000. In 2020, the festival did not take place due to concerns about COVID-19. In 2019, the festival raised $34,000 for the charitable organization.

“Amazed,” “astounded” and “grateful” were words Health Services Foundation Executive Director Lori Weston used to describe the emotion she felt once the final ticket sales were counted.

“As we tallied our final day of the Festival of Trees, we talked about all of the wonderful things that have occurred during the event,” Weston said. “”The generosity, the kindness shared, the reunion of old and new friends … Oh my word.”

Located at the Sunset Farm barn at 436 Foxcroft Road, organizers had to get creative at times when the ground could not withstand vehicles parking on the lawn. Instead, a pair of shuttle vans were deployed, with people parking at the nearby Maliseet Community Building.

The Festival of Trees featured more than 50 ornately decorated Christmas trees loaded with gift certificates and prizes of all sorts. For $1, a ticket could be purchased and placed into the bucket for whichever tree the person hoped to win.

Winners were drawn Sunday afternoon and the full list can be found on the Health Services Foundation’s Facebook page.

This year’s event marked the ninth annual fundraiser for the Health Services Foundation. Proceeds from previous festivals helped the local hospital, area clinics, municipalities and area schools by providing critically needed equipment, programs, technology upgrades and medical options that, in turn, meant better care.

Plans are already in the works for ways to make next year’s event even bigger, she said.

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