Franklin Countys First News

Chester Greenwood Day Saturday: Parade, events and earmuffs, of course

A young Chester Greenwood wearing his ear protectors.

FARMINGTON - No matter what the weather, earmuffs will be the rage on Saturday with the annual celebration of one of Farmington's most inventive sons, Chester Greenwood.

Hundreds are expected to attend the 35rd annual Chester Greenwood Day parade and fun events for the inventor, who in in 1873, created the first pair of earmuffs out of bits of wire and fur when he was 15.

Reportedly, the inspiration for creating earmuffs came from Greenwood's ears getting too cold while ice skating. He tried wrapping his head in a scarf, but found it too loose and itchy, so he made two loops of wire and asked his grandmother to sew fur over them. He patented an improved model with a steel head band to hold  them in place and called them Greenwood's Champion Ear Protectors. Proving popular, he later opened Greenwood's Ear Protector Factory on Front Street (now home to My Paper Crop Scissors Store) in Farmington and made a fortune supplying Ear Protectors to U.S. soldiers during World War I.

Greenwood went on to invent many more things, such as the steel-tooth rake, the doughnut hook used to safely pluck donuts from hot oil, better mouse traps, shock absorbers and more. He accumulated over 100 patents in his lifetime.

While the state of Maine declared Dec. 21 to be “Chester Greenwood Day” in 1977, Farmington has traditionally held its celebration on the first Saturday of the month which falls this year on Dec. 3. The Franklin County Chamber of Commerce sponsors the parade and events with more local organizations and businesses pitching in to sponsor more events.

According to Stacie Bourassa, the Chamber's  executive director,  there are a few changes to the 11 a.m. parade after meeting with Ronald Greenwood to get his family's ideas into action. First, there is no pre-registration required to join the parade.

"People can just show up and participate," Bourassa said. For the more organized among us, registration forms are available online here.  In addition, the 10 a.m. parade line-up has moved back to the Mallett School on Middle Street,  now that construction has been completed. (To lineup, enter at the Quebec Street entrance.) This year’s theme is ‘A Chorus of Carols" and, as always, earmuffs are required. The parade route will move from Mallett School onto Middle Street, south a block to South Street, over to Main Street and north through downtown to end at the Franklin County Courthouse.

Also new this year is that as the parade moves along Main Street, a panel of distinguished judges: Richard Morton, Janet Mills and Peter Judkins, will be judging entries while en route and in full performance in front of the Franklin Savings Bank Loan Center.  Parade winners will be announced right after the parade at the courthouse, with the flag raising ceremony following.

Corey Ellis, owner of the Mooseville store on Main Street, shows off his earmuff design for the fashion show.

In conjunction with the parade, the Farmington Downtown Association will be hosting an Ear-Muffler Fashion Show and Design Contest.  The Ear-Muffler Fashion Show will include a variety of different earmuffs each created and presented by local merchants.  The public is also encouraged to join in the fun by showing off their creativity in earmuff regalia.  For those who wish to take this event to another level of fun competition, there will also be an Ear-Muffler Design Contest after the parade.

The Ear-Muffler Design Contest will kick-off at 1 p.m. near Meetinghouse Park in downtown Farmington on the day of the event.  The master of ceremonies will be state Sen. Tom Saviello with esteemed judges: Sally Rowe, Sarah Maline, Roger Bisallion, and Dennis Haszko.  Entries will be judged in three groups: Ages 10 and under; Ages 11 through 17; and Ages 18 and over.  The judging criteria will include: creativity, originality of design, and ear warming effectiveness.  Contest winners will receive donated prizes from local merchants and each top-winner per age-category will be eligible for a free one-hour consultation with Mr. Haszko to discuss the patenting process with regard to their earmuff improvement or any other invention they may have.  Registration for the contest closes at 2 p.m. on the day of the event.  There is no fee required to enter, but contestants are encouraged to sign-up early by sending their name, town, and, age-category via e-mail to ChesterGreenwood@gmail.com or by stopping by Mooseville at 156 Main Street, Farmington.

Below is a schedule of events and details. It should be noted that the Rotary Club's Festival of Trees normally held on Chester Greenwood Day will instead be held on Saturday, Dec. 10 at UMF's North Dining Hall. The change of date and venue was a necessary one after the former venue at the Granary on Front Street closed, said festival organizer Pauline Rodrigue. On the 10th, the public display of trees opens at noon. The Franklin County Fiddlers will kick things off at the opening. A silent auction is open all day. At 4:30 p.m., the Mt. Blue Jazz Band will entertain visitors, 6 p.m. auction and at 7:30 p.m., the Syncopations perform. New this year is a dinner, after the Syncopations peform. Tickets for dinner are $30. Details on the festival will be posted next week.

Photographer Scott Landry caught a few of the many earmuff styles at the 2009 Chester Greenwood Day parade.

Chamber's Chester Greenwood Day partial listing of events

The American Legion Post #28 Auxiliary will host its annual holiday craft fair from 9 am – 3 pm, in the Legion building on the corner of High and Middle Streets. Attend to your holiday shopping needs, and enjoy a wide range of local handmade goods and plenty of treats.

The Franklin County Arts & Crafts Assoc. will hold its annual craft show from 9 am – 3 pm in the UMF Olsen Student Center. Check off your holiday to do list by finding the perfect, locally crafted gift.

The Farmington Emblem Club’s annual craft fair is from 9 am – 2 pm at the Farmington Elks Lodge. A well-established collection of vendors and items, this is one not to be missed!

The Farmington Historical Society will be displaying vintage Greenwood items at the Titcomb House from 9:30 – 3 p.m., as well as selling beautiful holiday wreaths (beginning at 9 a.m.).

Annual Chester Greenwood Parade begins at 11 a.m. through downtown Farmington. Entries for the parade can begin lining up in the Mallett School Parking lot (Quebec St. entrance) by 10:00 a.m. Judging of floats will be conducted en route this year, so the crowd can plan to find a panel of local celebrity judges stationed outside the Franklin Savings Bank Loan Center on Main St. A total of four cash prizes will be awarded in two categories: Adult (1st, 2nd, and 3rd) and Youth Organization (Best Overall). Prizes will be awarded directly after the parade at the Franklin County Courthouse by our very own Chester Greenwood (aka Clyde Ross). Please note, candy throwing will be permitted by individuals walking along the parade route only – not from the floats themselves, for safety reasons. Pre-registration is not required, but forms and event rules are posted online at www.franklincountymaine.org. Free and open to the public. This year’s theme is ‘A Chorus of Carols,’ so find a way to include a favorite holiday song into the entry. As always, earmuffs must be incorporated into each float.

Annual Chamber Chili Challenge following the parade in the Bangor Savings Bank building on Main Street from 12-1 p.m. Pre-registration required, drop off your entry between 11:30-11:45 a.m. Forms available online. Free and open to the public. Chester Greenwood birthday cake to be served after the chili contest, courtesy of Hannaford – Farmington.

5th Annual Gingerbread House Contest! Entries may be dropped off at the Main Street entrance of Bangor Savings Bank on Saturday morning between 8:30 - 9 a.m. The gingerbread creations will be on display for public viewing from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Entries will be reviewed by a panel of judges and prizes awarded for Kids (12 & Under) and Adult categories. This year’s theme is ‘A Chorus of Carols,’ so find a way to tie it all in. Pre-registration required. Forms available online. Free and open to the public.

In-Clog-Neat-O, the popular dance troop, will return to this year’s line up from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. in front of Bangor Savings Bank on Main Street.

After a great kick-off to the Gerry Wiles Holiday Food Basket Drive at the Chamber’s Annual Meeting, we’re asking for your help to reach our goal of feeding 130 Franklin County families this holiday season. Bring your donation of non-perishable food items to the parade (Bangor Savings Bank) and help support our neighbors in need.

The Chester Greenwood Flag Raising Ceremony will take place at the Franklin County Courthouse after the parade and prize presentation at approximately 12:15 p.m.

Horse and Wagon Rides following the parade from 12 – 1 p.m. with pickup to be located near Franklin Savings Bank & Dunkin Donuts on Main St.

The Polar Bear Club members will take their annual dip into frigid Clearwater Lake in Industry at Allen's Mills at 3 p.m.

As a special holiday promotion, the Franklin County Chamber will be offering ‘Chamber Bonus Bucks’ from Dec 1-3! For any purchase of $100 of Bucks or more, you’ll get 10 percent free. So, if you buy $200 in Bonus Bucks, and we’ll give you $220! It’s that simple, and you never have to worry about them expiring. Think local as you plan your holiday shopping- think Bonus Bucks! Stop into the Chamber office between 9 am – 4 pm on Dec.1 &2 to grab yours, or pick them up at Bangor Savings Bank while you’re at the Parade on the 3rd.(This promotion is good for purchases from $100 to $500.)

For up-to-date information on any of the events taking place on Chester Greenwood Day, please visit the Franklin County Chamber website at www.franklincountymaine.org, call the Chamber office at 778-4215, or email: marc@franklincountymaine.org.

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5 Responses »

  1. Be sure to check out the Fair Trade Gift Sale at Old South Church, UCC on Main St from 9am to 12pm! There will be fair trade gifts, coffee, cocoa and chocolates. Plus there will be FREE HOT COFFEE and COCOA! Please join us!

  2. CORRECTION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Chester did NOT invent a donut hook, Levi Brown did. Chester did NOT have 100 patents - he had FIVE! When are the news media in this town going to get it right?

    It does not, however, change anything about our festivities. Chester was an amazing man, and while he may NOT have made a fortune, he provided jobs for the folks in this community for nearly 60 years. Have you read the book "Chester...more than earmuffs"? You might want to "to set the record straight".

    Not many people look at his wife - Isabel. She was a spit of a woman who ran her household with an iron hand, but was a staunch supporter of women's right to vote - suffrage.

  3. Thanks Nancy for reminding us of the facts of Farmington's Ear Muff patented inventor.

  4. To view the Chester Greenwood patents check out this link
    http://www.google.com/patents?q=chester greenwood maine

  5. Jan 28 1916 Farmington Chronicle Newspaper: "The demand for the donut hooks recently perfected by Levi G Brown has been so large that their manufacture on a large scale is being considered. The inventor and Chester Greenwood are seeking the cost of turned handles, ferrules, and rods for making the hooks in quantities and if the cost can be kept low enough so that the completed hooks can be sold at a popular price and at the same time show a profit for retailer and maker, their manufacture in large quantities may be begun. It is said that wherever introduced a brisk demand is for more." So you see, Chester was involved, but he didn't invent them.

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