Methuen’s 24th Annual Festival of Trees Begins with Taste of the Festival

Terry Trent, president of Billerica’s Bennett Public Library Association, talks with Festival of Trees Founder Sharon M. Pollard, Friday night. (WHAV News photograph.)

President Thomas R. Lussier presents Guest Chef Jennifer L. Royle with a Waterford crystal tree. (WHAV News photograph.)

Methuen’s 24th Annual Festival of Trees kicked off Friday night with its “Taste of the Festival.”

President Thomas R. Lussier honored Guest Chef Jennifer L. Royle.

“This is an Emmy award-winning sports reporter who along the way decided food was her passion,” he said, presenting her with a Waterford Crystal Christmas tree.

Lussier explained Royle is best known for her work at the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network. She is now a private chef, owning her own company, Boston-based Dare To Taste.

Royle selected the Methuen Fire Department’s decorated Christmas tree as her favorite. Lussier explained the guest chef’s role. “We have a tradition. We always ask our guest chef to pick his or her favorite tree. Sometimes those are the same selections as our judges. Sometimes they are very different,” he explained.

The annual holiday event officially opened Saturday and runs through Dec. 2. It is open weekdays from 5 to 9 p.m. and weekends from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., at 13 Branch St., Methuen. Admission is $10.

There are more than 240 full- and mini-sized trees, wreaths and holiday displays donated by local residents and businesses to be raffled off. Raffle tickets are $5 for 26 tickets and prizes will be awarded on the final day of the Festival. A cash prize of $5,000 will also be raffled off in a separate drawing. The money raised is granted to area organizations for historic preservation projects.

Among this year’s tree judges were Ann Jones, Susan Kneeland and Tracy Meola of the Greater Haverhill Arts Association.