ELIOT, Maine — Stepping into the woods at Bill Widi’s farm is like walking into a Jackson Pollock painting ... if his medium was twinkling lights.
The woods in Eliot have been getting a lot of buzz for the last two years. A viewer recently called 207 and suggested we check out how a farmer there has transformed his 14 acres of land into a one-mile walk ablaze with color.
“I was never really known as a creative person,” said Bill Widi, who owns Sandy Hill Farm. For the last two years, Widi has been pouring his talents into a light show he calls Winter Wonders. It’s comprised of tunnels, trains, reindeer, polar bears, and trees, all lit up with more than 750,000 lights.
The 14-acre farm sits on the Piscataquis River and has been owned by his family for generations, but it took an illness to bring Widi back to his roots. Ten years ago he was diagnosed with testicular cancer.
“I didn't have insurance. I was 23 at the time so you think that you’re invincible,” explained Widi. “I ended up selling my business to pay my bills and I wanted to get into what I enjoyed. I enjoyed farming.”
He began growing fruits and veggies. As a way to make extra money, Widi thought setting himself to hire to hang Christmas lights was a good idea, but no one called. Then the idea for his own light show began to sprout. He approached the town of Eliot but was not given the green light until a citizen's petition helped his light show get on the town ballot.
Last year was the first for Winter Wonders, and as the pandemic forced families to social distance from each other, Widi said his light show became a meeting place for so many who had not seen loved ones in months.
“It was crazy because we had so many people thanking us,” remembered Widi.
The lights at Winter Wonders will be up until January 2. Tickets cost $18 and must be purchased ahead of time.
This year, even more visitors have come to walk in his woods, and you can tell from the smiles on their faces that the lights at Widi’s farm are helping to make this winter a little brighter.
“I want you to get out and be with your family and friends. That's the best experience,” said Widi. “If we are just a conduit for that then great.”
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