MARY ANN ESPOSITO OF CIAO ITALIA TO APPEAR AT 2013 EMERALD ANNIVERSARY TASTE OF THE FESTIVAL

Methuen, MA, September 18, 2013 – The 20th Festival of Trees will kick off with the Emerald Anniversary Taste of the Festival on Friday, November 22, 2013 with special guest, celebrity Chef Mary Ann Esposito, of the famed cooking series Ciao Italia. This culinary celebration, officially opening the 20th Anniversary Festival of Trees, will showcase signature dishes from many local restaurants as well as the unveiling of more than 240 spectacular Christmas trees and wreaths.

“We are honored to have Chef Mary Ann Esposito as our special guest this year to help celebrate the Festival’s incredible 20-year milestone,” said Sharon Pollard, President of the Festival of Trees. “To have an internationally known chef of her caliber is sure to bring excitement to both the guests and participating restaurants.”

Mary Ann Esposito is the creator and host of the PBS series, Ciao Italia, seen nationally and internationally. This year the series celebrates its 25th Anniversary, making it the longest running cooking series in America. She is the author of 12 cookbooks including the best selling Ciao Italia and her most recent book Ciao Italia Family Classics.

Mary Ann honed her skills in regional cooking schools throughout Italy and got her start in Perugia. She continues to teach classes in cooking schools throughout Italy each year. She has appeared on the Today Show, Food Network and has been featured in newspapers and magazines, including People Magazine, TV Guide, Family Circle, Yankee, and USA Today.

On September 14, 2013, Chef Mary Ann Esposito was in Forlimpopoli, Italy to receive the prestigious Premio Artusi Award, presented yearly to the individual who best exemplifies the art of preserving the traditions of regional cooking.

“It gives me great pleasure to participate in an event that brings together community and wonderful local food,” said Chef Mary Ann Esposito. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to mingle with guests and sample some of the great cuisine the Merrimack Valley has to offer.”

The Festival of Trees is the largest festival in New England and is the model and inspiration for many other festivals in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Since it began in 1993, more than 1000 people, businesses and organizations have donated trees and 1500 volunteers have donated their time. The Festival attracts over 27,000 visitors annually from 14 states and over 380 communities who come to view 240 beautifully decorated trees and wreathes. Festival participants include school children of all ages, businesses, organizations and people who annually enjoy the fun of decorating a tree and making an important contribution to the heritage of their communities.

The Taste of the Festival is Friday, Nov. 22, from 6 -10 p.m. Tickets are $50.00 and can be purchased by calling 978-685-8878 or via email at www.methuenfestivaloftrees.com. A limited quantity of aprons and cookbooks will be available for sale and signing by Chef Mary Ann Esposito.

The 20th Festival of Trees officially opens Nov. 23, 2013 and runs through Dec. 7, 2013. Open weekdays from 5-9 p.m. and weekends from 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving. General Admission is $8 on weekdays, $10 on weekends and children 12 and under are always FREE. The Festival is located at Valley Office Park, 13 Branch St., Methuen.

For more information, visit www.methuenfestivaloftrees.com. For more information on Chef Mary Ann Esposito, please visit www.ciaoitalia.com.

About the Festival of Trees
The Festival of Trees was started as a fundraiser to benefit the last stages of restoration on the historic Tenney Gatehouse in Methuen, MA in 1994. It is a magical event held annually by The Festival of Trees, Inc. to celebrate the spirit of the holiday season. The proceeds from the Festival of Trees provide funding to preserve the heritage and the monuments that make Methuen and the communities of the Merrimack Valley unique. The Festival of Trees has been a catalyst for historical preservation and has contributed over $1.4 million dollars to fund over 140 preservation projects throughout the Merrimack Valley and beyond.