Starting and ending with a disco theme, is the way Summerfest coordinator Kelly Mank described the event that will take place this Saturday, despite much controversy in March when the Town of Windham cancelled Summerfest.
“It’s going to be an amazing event and what makes it even better is that we were able to pull the community together in a fraction of the time that it usually takes to organize Summerfest,” said Mank. “It shows that the community can come together.”
“We have a new fresh group of dedicated people,” said Ron Eby, who has coordinated in past years and this year is acting as a consultant and detail keeper. “The community support was always there. It just takes leaders to step up,” he said.
The day kicks off at 7:30 a.m. with registration for the 4th Annual Duane Clark Scholarship Car Show, featuring 20 classes of competition. At 9 a.m., join the Lion’s Club pancake breakfast and a 5K run and kids run which starts at the Windham High School track and then mosey across Windham Center Road where the Windham Historical Society begins its Artisan on the Green exhibit, featuring many crafters showing their skills and products.
At 10 a.m., take a helicopter ride, ride the carnival rides and the car show begins, followed by the food and game booths, which open at 11 a.m.
The parade, organized by Clarence Wisecup, which still taking additions to the parade at the time of press, starts at noon. “We were down about 20 entrants, but they’re still coming in,” he said. There will be two Shrine units and the Shaw Brothers are bringing the biggest piece of equipment in the world, and it’s less than one month old, Wisecup said.
“There’s a lot of local stuff,” he said. Of course, the Camp Sunshine monster fire truck will be showcased and a new addition, The Blue Star Ladies, who are mothers of active service members, will march with the veterans.
Kathy Varney organized the booths as she has done in past years. There will be 45 food, games and community booths ready to tempt those passing by. “There are a lot of new people joining this year than before,” said Varney. She attributes that to the visibility of the event with press coverage and an updated Facebook page.
“I’m really excited about the mix this year. It’s nice to see the new people, or the old people doing new things,” she said.
No two booths sell the same food item, she said.
“Our mission behind the food booths and games is to allow non-profit groups exposure to highlight their cause and an opportunity to raise money for their passion,” Varney said. Do to the lack of preparation time, some organizations couldn’t get their booth ready in time, she said. This mostly impacted the business expo, which was only expected to have five booths, but has 10 signed up.
“Economic times haven’t changed,” Varney said, explaining why some businesses couldn’t afford to have a booth. Adding to the fact that the Windham Economic Development Corporation, which usually gives out scholarships to businesses, was not able to do that this year, made the entry fee more than some could spend. Varney worked with Rick Sanborn on the business expo. The business expo gives companies the opportunity “to promote and showcase their businesses. We encourage each one to do a drawing, giveaways, games or something to interact with people,” Sanborn said.
Events start on the main stage at 1:30 p.m. Featuring singers, a K-9 demonstration by Sergeant Bill Andrew and Fourniers Karate demonstration. At 3:15 p.m. things really get hopping with the ever popular frog jumping contest.
From 4 p.m. until the spectacular fireworks around 9:15 p.m., the main stage rocks with Johnny the K, DeBreeze & Keys and headliner Motor Booty Affair.
The fireworks, donated by Central Maine Pyrotechnics, will be set off by Chris Howell and his team at dusk for the grand finale to the day.
“When the fireworks goes off, you look around and see how many people start to congregate. Then you really know you’ve done what you set out to do,” said Eby. “When the first fireworks go off, there’s a collective sigh of relief (from the committee),” he said.
“The day of it’s a little overwhelming. I hope the community realizes how close they were to losing it,” Eby said. The sponsorships have been amazing and without them Summerfest wouldn’t have happened, Eby said. “This is all done for others. They can’t focus on personal gain – it’s for others.”
None of the events could be held if not for the fundraising that was done to help pay for entertainment, power, rentals, advertising and more. Robert York and Robin Mullins were tasked with the job of raising enough money to cover this year’s festivities and have $5,000 seed money left over for next year’s committee.
“Overall we’re meeting our goals,” said York. Fundraising efforts involved a bottle drive, donation drive, selling advertising in the Summerfest flyer, and in a little under two months the funds were raised.
“I got involved because of the lack of interest. It’s a lot of work and takes a lot of time when you’re busy at work, but it’s something my kids really enjoy,” York said.
“I’m pleased at how generous people have been,” said Mullins. “We want to thank the town for being extremely generous. To hit a goal that one time seemed impossible…”
The final fundraiser for this event is a silent auction at Summerfest. Tickets will be sold and people put them in a jar in front of the item they want. Since Summerfest has reached its goal, the money from the auction will be given to the Windham Primary School playground fund. Items will still accepted until the last minute and no item is too big or too small, said Mullins. To donate, call 310-8578 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“In this age of electronics, computers, iPads, cellphone, getting people out in the fresh air to see people who live next door to them and interact face to face, that’s what’s important,” said Varney. “It’s people being with people and unplugging from technology.”