Christmas decorations at Gov. Janet Mills’ residence in Augusta this year include a wreath made by Newcastle local Wanda Wilcox, who won a blue ribbon for her work at the Fryeburg Fair in October.
Wilcox has taken home six blue ribbons there for her wreaths in the last eight years, but this was the first time that she had the opportunity to make a wreath for Mills to hang outside the Blaine House. The Maine Christmas Tree Association, which sponsors the wreath and tree exhibitions at Fryeburg, donates trees to the governor’s residence for holiday displays, according to Wilcox, and added wreaths to their donation this winter.
“It was a no-brainer” to accept the invitation, Wilcox said.
Wilcox, the executive director of Chase Point Assisted Living by day, has won first place at the fair three times in the decorated wreath category and two undecorated. Her first place decorated wreath this year was made with greens she harvested herself at her home in Newcastle and decorated with natural materials she collects throughout the year.
The wreath she created for the governor was similar, Wilcox said, featuring pinecones, berries, and lichen crowned by a pinecone-printed bow. She also makes her bows by hand.
Wilcox began making wreaths after watching a demonstration at the Fryeburg Fair in the early 2000s.
“I thought, ‘I can do that,’” she said, and has been developing her skills ever since.
She is an independent wreath maker and does not sell them, creating less than 20 a year as holiday gifts for friends and family.
Wilcox traveled to Augusta on Nov. 28 to present the wreath to Gov. Mills and returned again this weekend for a tour of the fully decorated Blaine House.
She said that seeing the trees decorated and her wreath on display “put the frosting on the cake” of her experience.
Though her wreath-making season is finished for this year, Wilcox is already looking ahead.
“I was out yesterday scouting for things blowing off the trees. I’m always scouting,” she said on Monday, Dec. 12.
She isn’t preoccupied with repeating the experience next year, however.
“You just make the best one you can. It’s in the eye of the beholder,” Wilcox said of wreath judging. “It’s an honor enough to win the blue ribbon.”
The Blaine House will be open for holiday tours through Tuesday, Jan. 3. For more information, go to blainehouse.org/visit/tours.