Showing posts with label Deb Matthews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Deb Matthews. Show all posts

Friday, June 14, 2024

Windham Summerfest returns June 22 for 34th year

By Kaysa Jalbert

Summerfest makes its way back to Windham on Saturday, June 22 taking on the theme “Summerfest Turns Back Time.” New to this year’s Summerfest is an updated parade route designed to give participants the best views and the best parade experience from start to finish.

The parade route for this year's Summerfest is different and
starts at noon June 22 from Stadium Drive at Windham Center
Road, proceeds up School Road, turns right onto Route 202
and finishes on the Windham High School grounds.
This year’s Summerfest is a free event for everyone to enjoy live music and activities, to support local vendors and non-profit food booths, and is packed with many more features to bring the community together.

Parade floats will be based on this year’s theme. Float-makers can be as creative as they choose, but will be judged on specific criteria such as, best depiction of the 2024 theme, best depiction of Summerfest principle of “Bringing Unity to The Community,” most creative, most entertaining, and the judges’ choice.

The parade kicks off at noon on June 22 from Stadium Drive at Windham Center Road and will proceed up School Road to take a right onto Route 202. Staging areas will be at Public Works and Stadium Drive Parking lot. The parade finishes at 1 p.m. on the Windham High School grounds.

“We are excited about this new route and feel it will make it easier for our guests to enjoy every aspect of this exciting parade,” says Windham Summerfest committee co-chair Deb Matthews.

In addition to announcing the new parade route, Matthews said that this year’s Summerfest Grand Marshal will be Rich Drummond, the athletic director for RSU 14.

All the Summerfest booths will be open for the parade and continue into the evening. There will be community booths for local non-profits to share their good works, and the food booths operated by non-profits as a means of fundraising.

The Summerfest business expo is mostly local, and they provide fun activities for attendees while the crafter vendor area provides a wide variety of items for purchase.

“We have so many amazing sponsors that have provided us the ability to offer this event to our community for free,” said Matthews.

More fun and active features included will be a rock wall, two escape rooms, and an inflatable village.

For special guest entertainment, juggler Jason Tardy will perform and address topics such as what is bullying, the roles bystanders play in bullying, how to become an upstander and help fellow students, and what to do if you are bullied. He will also describe his own personal struggle with bullying and how he overcame it.

Other Summerfest performers will include a magician, balloon twisting, Mad Science, and tons of music. Musical performances include Jimmy Macisso playing on the Main Stage at 1 p.m., the Get on Up Band on the Main Stage from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. and Dave Debree performing on the George Hall Memorial Stage from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

An Amateur Radio Relay League will be appearing at this year’s Summerfest in which members from the Wireless Society of Southern Maine, WSSM, will be setting-up field day operations in the ballfields directly behind the main Summerfest event venue. Throughout the day and evening, anyone, young or old, is welcome to join the team of ham operators to learn more about Amateur Radio and participate in making radio contact with operators in other distant locations.

Summerfest 2024 will also host a 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament that starts at 2 p.m. and is open to anyone between the ages of 5 and 18. In addition, the Golf Ball drop sponsored by the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce will start at 5 p.m. To end the evening, fireworks will be launched at 9:30 p.m. from the Main Stage.

“I feel all our events connect with our attendees. It is so important to the Summerfest Committee and me that we offer this to our community as a free family friendly event,” says Matthews. “I want your whole family to attend with you. I want you to spend the day, and if you cannot afford to spend any money pack a picnic lunch and relax. Watching the kids’ faces, seeing how happy the grandparents are to wave to grandchildren while they run and play, seeing Mom and Dad and the joy they get from these sweet moments.”

Every year presents a new challenge to the Summerfest Committee whether in booking all the acts or coordinating with the town, police, fire department and schools, or just hoping for good weather. According to Matthews, however, the biggest challenge remains in fundraising.

“We changed our sponsorship model last year and had great success,” she said. “We also keep an eye on the sky, fingers crossed and pray for sunshine.”

Matthews says the event will be full of vendors and booths and that annual public attendance for Summerfest runs between 2,500 to 4,000 people.

The Windham Summerfest Committee has been working on this year’s celebration since last June and its members include Deb Matthews, Tommy Matthews, Barb Maurais, Jacob Chouinard, Karen Rumo, and Camille Swander. <

Friday, June 23, 2023

Windham Summerfest promises to be a day loaded with fun

By Masha Yurkevich

Starting with the opening parade at noon Saturday, June 24, Windham Summerfest will continue to be a day filled with fun activities, music, and food capped off by a spectacular fireworks show after dark.

Windham's popular Summerfest celebration returns Saturday,
June 24 with a full slate of free activities intended to bring
unity to the community at Windham High School. Events
include a parade starting at 10 a.m. and fireworks after dark.
Deb Matthews has served as the chair of the Windham Summerfest Committee for the last four years and has been with Summerfest off and on since about 2007.

“Summerfest has always been a family-oriented event,” says Matthews. “Our goal is to bring multiple generations of families together to spend the day enjoying each other and our many activities.”

It has been a challenge to keep Summerfest running smoothly.

“I was involved in the beginning when the committee asked me to coordinate a craft fair for them. I was in charge of the Windham Athletic Boosters Craft Fair at that time, Matthews said. “My husband and I were involved for a few years. About 2013 it was running out of steam, volunteers were exhausted and they struggled to find committee members. They discussed cancelling Summerfest. The Windham Parks and Recreation Department and many others tried to revitalize Summerfest. They started us on the path we are on today.”

The general idea and motto of this year’s Summerfest is "Bringing Unity to the Community.”

According to Matthews, Windham Summerfest is a family friendly event, and all ages are encouraged to attend and enjoy a fun-filled day.

“Each year we try to bring in new activities, demonstrations, music and fun. I want to see our neighbors interacting with all our vendors,” she said. “We encourage each vendor to make their booth fun, attractive and enticing to draw people in.”

This year the crafter and vendor village is full of beautiful items to purchase, and it could be a perfect time to get some early Christmas shopping done.

“The best thing for me personally is that the entire event is free,” Matthews said. “Non–profits sell food to raise money for their individual organizations. I want you to come and spend the day. If you cannot afford to spend money at this time, that is okay, pack a lunch and come play.”

This year, Mrs. Maine will also be part of the Summerfest activities. Amanda Shute, Mrs. Maine America 2023, is an Auburn resident and says she’s excited to proudly pay homage to her husband's hometown of Windham at Summerfest. Shute was selected as the local title holder of Mrs. Auburn in May 2022 and was awarded the state title on April 3 during the annual Mrs. Maine America Pageant this year. She will compete at Nationals at the Westgate Hotel in Las Vegas in August.

“My year consisted of making community appearances to advocate and fundraise for several charities,” says Shute. “In June of 2022, I launched a non-profit called, ‘Get Cyber Fit,’ which is aimed to educate families on creating healthier online habits. I have proudly invested over $60,000 in services to the community within the past year, working with Educate Maine's Tech Night, ran several tables at Family Events, and built a social media page focused on online safety education.

Shute said that as Mrs. Maine, she has a wider reach to equip families with the knowledge to have safer online experiences.

Holding the title of Mrs. Maine America awards her the opportunity to carry out her dreams by paying her success forward and amplifying her community work, along with elevating the voice of other women and the causes they are passionate about in the Mrs. America Program.

Shute’s mission statement is "Pay your Success Forward" and she’s ready to participate in Windham Summerfest.

“I have used over a decade of experience to identify a need and use my knowledge to help drive change for such a critical and growing need,” she says. The Windham Summerfest Parade will help to celebrate Shute's community impact. “

You can follow Shute’s journey and show support on social media by finding her on Instagram @mrsmaineamerica2023. She is still working toward her fundraising goals and can be supported through Venmo @Amanda_Shute.

Keeping Kids Safe will also be a part of this year’s Windham Summerfest. Its founder, Michael O’Neal, served as a part-time Deputy Sheriff for the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department for more than 17 years, and founded Keeping Kids Safe in 2008. The organization offers personal safety training and teaches the Grip, Dip, and Spin technique that could help save the lives of children from predators.

O’Neal also teaches various other child-friendly and educational programs like Anti-Bullying and Internet Safety Date escape.

“We teach our kids the Stop, Drop, and Roll method for fire safety, but we never teach our kids what to do if a stranger might grab them,” said O’Neal.

Keeping Kids Safe became part of the annual Summerfest activities in 2015 and has been helping to educate the community about simple methods to keeping themselves and their children safe.

Summerfest is entirely free to attend and kicks off with the opening parade down Route 202 to Windham High School and will be followed by many fun activities, bands, food, games and vendors behind the high school. <

Friday, June 2, 2023

Summerfest celebration draws closer in Windham

By Ed Pierce

Get ready to have fun as the 2023 Windham Summerfest celebration returns on Saturday, June 24 to the grounds of Windham High School.

Sandy Donnelly of Windham, left, who operated the Red
Sands Restaurant in town for many years, has been selected
as the Grand Marshal of the 2023 Windham Summerfest,
while retired Windham Police Captain Bill Andrew, right,
who served the community for more than three decades,
has been selected as the 2023 Modern Woodmen of
America Hometown Hero. SUBMITTED PHOTOS
Windham Summerfest is an annual event that honors and celebrates the rich history and people of the Town of Windham and fosters a sense of community. It’s entirely free and features live music, interesting activities, craft vendors, food booths and much more. Summerfest’s theme for 2023 is “A Little Bit of Everything,” and a quick review of featured attractions and activities reveals that’s an accurate summary of what participants will experience at this year’s celebration.

Deb Matthews is the chair of Windham’s Summerfest Committee and said that she feels Summerfest is so popular in the community because the committee focuses on making it family friendly.

“I want you to come to Summerfest with your grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and kids of all ages,” she said. “I want you to have fun, be engaged by the activities we offer, and leave with a smile on your face. By making all activities free, a family can come together and enjoy themselves without the thought of cost.”

According to Matthews, the hardest part of putting Summerfest together each year for the committee is making sure that they are making it better than the last.

“I do not want to repeat year after year. I feel like adding new activities or demonstrations will keep it fresh for all of us,” she said.

Matthews said a partial list of entertainment and activities for Summerfest in 2023 includes Escape Rooms; a 24-foot Rock Wall for climbing; The Lost & Found Band; a Dance Demonstration by members of the Maine Dance Center; the Radio Revival Band; a Golf Ball Drop; the Stone Broke Band; the Cousin ITT Band; Roaming Magician Phil Smith; a Meet and Greet with the Princesses and Heroes; the annual Summerfest 3v3 basketball tournament; Juggler Jason Tardy; the
Party Palooga balloonists; and Mr. Drew and his Animals Too. The day of fun wraps up with a fireworks extravaganza after dark.

Matthews said she has a hard time selecting her personal favorite booth to visit every year.

“There are so many I look forward to visiting each year. I love the crafter/vendor booths for their creativity and talents,” Matthews said. “I anxiously wait to see what the business booths will do for an activity at their booth to engage me.”

She said the Summerfest food booths are always a surprise.

“I never know what to expect and the food is always delicious,” Matthews said. “The community booths share how they are working to improve our communities and make it fun at the same time. I have made many lifelong friends from the people that participated in previous events and wouldn't change a thing.”

As in years past, the annual Summerfest Parade will kick things off for the day, starting at about Lotts Drive and then running up Route 202 (Gray Road) and ending in the WHS parking lot. Awards will be given for Best Depiction of the 2023 Theme: “A Little Bit of Everything” with award recipients receiving gift cards.

During the Windham Town Council meeting on May 23, Matthews shared with those in attendance the names of this year’s Summerfest Grand Marshal and the Modern Woodmen of America Hometown Hero.

Matthews said that the Grand Marshal must be a Windham resident and must demonstrate how they bring unity to the community and likewise, the Modern Woodmen choose the Windham Hometown Hero annually based upon similar ideals. Nominations were submitted earlier this year and the response from those nominating individuals to be honored this year was overwhelming, Matthews told town councilors.

This year’s Modern Woodmen Hometown Hero is retired Windham Police Captain Bill Andrew, a lifelong Windham resident, who retired from the Windham Police Department last September after three decades of serving and protecting the residents of the town.

Andrew graduated from Windham High School in 1992 and while attending school he was a member of the Junior Firefighters. After graduation he worked as a dispatcher for the police department for three years before deciding to become a police officer. He was the driving force in starting the canine unit for WPD under Chief Rick Lewsen. Through the years, Andrew also put many dangerous criminals behind bars, helped find lost children and led the charge each year for fundraising for the Maine Special Olympics, helping to organize the Windham portion of the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run for the Special Olympics.

“I want to take a moment to reflect on what it means to not only be nominated as Windham’s Hometown Hero, but to have been chosen. This honor is truly humbling,” Andrew said. “When I embarked on my public safety journey, I wanted to give back to the community that I grew up in. As a Windham High School student, I started my path as a junior firefighter and EMT and I started to realize that giving to the community was rewarding and fulfilling. After high school, I continued to serve the community as a dispatcher and then a police officer. I was fortunate to have the opportunities, the trust and support of the Town of Windham throughout my 33 years serving the community, the businesses, the residents, and the visitors. I saw the town grow throughout that time and watch now from the sidelines as it continues to grow.”

Andrw said that he went through his career never thinking he was a hero, but just someone who was upholding their duty to serve and give back to the community.

“It is an honor to be chosen as the Hometown Hero because it is also honoring those who I have served with over my career. There are many heroes among us. The honor is not just receiving the award and recognition, but to have worked with and alongside the men and women that I had the honor and privilege to work with over those 33 years. I am truly humbled and honored. Thank you.”

Matthews said this year’s Summerfest Grand Marshal is Sandy Donnelly, who recently celebrated her 90th birthday. Along with her husband and three children, she ran a local restaurant in Windham for 22 years and was involved in the restaurant business in town for more than 50 years.

Donnelly is well-known for her oatmeal bread and lemon meringue pie, but even more so locally for her generosity and willingness to help others. She was a Girl Scout Leader, a Boy Scout Leader, was involved in the Windham Athletic Boosters raising money to create the first lighted soccer field in Windham, and active in the Windham Chamber of Commerce. She was honored as the chamber’s “Businessperson of the Year” in 1984.

According to Matthews, Donnelly would always be there to help if an organization needed to raise money, opening her family’s restaurant for a fundraising dinner or to offer to help cook for a fundraiser at one of the schools.

Her friend and former employee, Barb Maurais, said this honor for Donnelly is greatly deserved.

“The family has been a fixture in the Windham community for over 50 years. They employed and supported hundreds of local students at their restaurant,” Maurais said. “She is a giver, from Scout leader, Athletic Boosters, Chamber of Commerce director, to the hostess with the most-est at Rustler's Restaurant, She has always been a doer, an organizer, and Windham's ambassador sharing her kind heart, that twinkle in her eye, and joyous laugh with every new friend that she meets, And her baking, lemon meringue pie, tapioca pudding, that whipped cream, and who could forget the legendary Oatmeal Bread. She exemplifies bringing unity to the community with every interaction.”

When Donnelly’s family shared the news with her that she will be honored as this year’s Summerfest Grand Marshal, Matthews said that Donnelly was speechless, and later as it began to sink in, she started practicing her pageant wave for the parade.

Along with all the other Summerfest activities, one of the most popular events is returning once again this year.

The Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce Community Golf Ball Drop is back, with golf balls sold by the Sebago Lake Chamber of Commerce for $10 each, and a total of 1,000 golf balls available. The golf balls will be dropped from a Windham Fire Department Ladder Truck during Summerfest at 3 p.m. with the winner receiving 20 percent of the amount collected. If all golf balls are sold, the winner would receive $2,000 cash. Additional prizes will also be awarded. Proceeds from the golf ball drop will benefit the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce Charitable Trust for Feed the Need, helping provide for 12 food pantries across the Lakes Region. Winners will be announced at Summerfest at 7 p.m. and golf balls may be purchased in advance by visiting or by calling the chamber at 207-892-8265.

The Windham Summerfest Committee has been working on this year’s celebration since last June and its members include Deb Matthews (chair), Tommy Matthews (entertainment), Barb Maurais (vendors/crafters). Jacob Chouinard (3v3 basketball), and at-large members Tiffany Sinclair, Karen Rumo, Aaron Pieper, and Camille Swander. <