LITCHFIELD — Area tree farms are getting ready for Black Friday, which marks the unofficial start of New Hampshire's Christmas tree business.
The state's holiday tree industry is valued at about $4 million annually, according to the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food.
For Paul Lemire, owner of Noel's Tree Farm in Litchfield, the kickoff of the tree season Nov. 29 has been months in the making.
"We have been working for weeks now getting stuff ready and getting everything finalized. We expect this to be a big year for us," said Lemire, who owns the farm with his wife, Catherine. Their tree operation consists of about 9 acres and 9,500 trees on the plantation.
They hosted Gov. Maggie Hassan on Friday, at which time she cut the state's official first Christmas tree of the season.
This is the second time the Lemire family has had a visit from a governor. Two years ago, former Gov. John Lynch and his wife also toured the farm and selected some personal trees for the holiday.
"I was so pleased to hear that my farm was chosen this year," said Lemire, who said he welcomed the governor and Lorraine Merrill, commissioner of agriculture.
Last year, Noel's Tree Farm, at 21 Charles Bancroft Highway, sold about 3,000 trees, and Lemire is anticipating a similar season this year. Holiday favorites include balsam, Fraser, Canaan and concolor fir trees, according to Lemire, who favors the concolor white fir tree. "They seem to last really, really well, and have a very citrusy scent," he said.
After Thanksgiving, there are only four weekends before Christmas Day, said Lemire, explaining the tree season will be shortened by a week because of the calendar.
"Black Friday weekend will be crazy for us. Many people will come to cut down their own trees," he said.
In addition to harvesting its own trees, Noel's Farm also purchases trees for resale from other growers. It also sells wreaths and other greenery items for the Christmas season.
Lemire said his business just finished building its second fire pit, and he is optimistic it will draw big crowds in the coming weeks.
"It is like a festival," he said, adding there is a petting zoo and reindeer at the farm and visits from Santa Claus on Sunday afternoons.
The tree farm will open for the season Nov. 29.