RANGELEY – Celebrate the cultural heritage of logging in the western mountains of Maine on Friday and Saturday, July 25 and 26 at the 28th Annual Logging Festival sponsored by the Rangeley Lakes Region Logging Museum. Activities include an evening of music, a parade on Main Street, a woodsmen’s competition, new museum exhibits, and the best bean-hole bean dinner ever.
On Friday afternoon at the museum site on Route 16 one mile east of Rangeley, visitors can watch George Slinn of Rangeley and Warwick, RI, a veteran of Boy Scout bean-hole bean dinners, and Homer Everhard of Rangeley and East Walpole, Mass., begin the 24-hour process of preparing the ground and then baking bean-hole beans, a logging camp staple. Slinn and Everhard, along with their families and friends, serve up the beans on Saturday.
The museum’s main building will open Friday at 11. Special for this year will be the exhibit “Inspirations from the Forest,” produced by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, with funding for artists from the National Endowment for the Arts, and in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service. The exhibit examines some of the ways in which timberlands, grasslands, mountains, and waterways have served as inspirations to those who create works of art, literature, and music. One of the featured artists is Museum founder Rodney Richard, Sr. For more, visit http://www.folklife.si.edu/explore/inspirations.html
Returning this year is the popular Maine Mountain Heritage exhibit. It exhibits 18 stories and associated images told by local organizations from across Franklin, Oxford, Piscataquis, and Somerset counties. Story subjects include natural history (moose and riverways), community origins (early immigration and community life), and local economies (logging, slate mining, paper making, and nature-based tourism). A state-of-the-art interactive touch kiosk enables visitors to listen to these stories of western Maine.
Also on display is the exhibit Knit by Heart: The Art of Lucille Richard, honors museum co-founder and former secretary, Mrs. Lucille Haley Richard (1927-2006). A slide show of photographs of her life, as well as samples of Mrs. Richard’s knitting will be on display and many more exhibits and logging equipment are on display.
About 4:30 p.m. Friday, museum visitors can taste the biscuits that Stephen Richard mixes and then bakes on the camp-style reflector ovens placed around open fires, as in early logging camp days.
Although the Friday evening program begins at 7 p.m. in the Undercroft of the Church of the Good Shepherd on Main Street, early birds will be entertained by the Rangeley Ramblers with their special brand of country-western music. The Little Miss and Little Mister Wood Chip talent contest follows. Chosen from six- to eight-year-old contestants who sing or recite, the winners will ride down Main Street in Saturday’s parade. The museum will induct Mr. Lewis Abbott, 89, of Phillips, into the Loggers Hall of Fame. Mr. Abbott worked in woods until he was 85, and his family members continue to learn from his expertise today. Maine’s master fiddler, Simon St. Pierre of Smyrna Mills will play. Entrance fees for the evening are $3 adults, $1 older children, and free for children 5 and under; door prizes will be given.
On Saturday, the Logging Festival parade starts at 10 a.m. from the Rangeley Inn, with Farmington’s Old Crow Band; floats by The Giving Tree, the Camden National Bank, and others; and displays of new equipment and hard-working logging trucks. The 2007 Little Miss Wood Chip Mary Page of Rangeley Plantation, daughter of Jason Swiney and Amanda Leach, will ride on the Giving Tree float. Judges will award seven Logging Museum prizes in six categories: Most Appropriate to the logging industry ($100), Best Logging Truck ($100), Most Entertaining ($75), Most Original ($50), and Most Humorous ($25), and two Best Youth floats ($25 each).
Events then move to the museum site on Route 16 where there will be more music, children’s games, and displays of logging equipment and trucks. An entrance fee of $3 for adults, $1 for children 6 to 18 (5 and under are free) offers admission to all these activities and to the museum exhibits. Raffle tickets will be sold: 1st prize, two nights at Rangeley Lakes Resort ; 2nd, a hand-crocheted afghan by Virginia Haley White of Rangeley; and 3rd, a cash prize of $100. Tickets will be drawn at 4 pm.
At 11:30 am, the beanhole bean dinner begins ($8.00 for adults, $3.50 for children 11 and under). For part of the afternoon, Simon St. Pierre as well as the Rangeley Ramblers will play and sing. Rodney Richard, Sr., will carve a chain-saw bear and auction it off to the highest bidder.
Around noon, contestants line up for the woodsmen’s competition under the watchful eye of Rodney Richard, Jr., and Lenita Richard. Rodney Richard, Sr. Throughout the day at the museum field, artists will sell crafts such as wooden trucks, wooden household items, pottery, doll clothes, home cooking, Christmas crafts, knitting, Ecopelagicon nature books, and more. For more information, call the Richards at 864-5595. Website: http://mason.gmu.edu/~myocom
– By Peggy Yocom, Folklorist at the Rangeley Lakes Region Logging Museum