Guilford River Festival draws hundreds

By Mike Lange
Staff Writer

    GUILFORD — Andrea and Tom Gilbert, the owners of Herring Brothers Meats, weren’t sure how many kids would sign up for the first-ever pig scramble at this year’s Piscataquis River Festival. “We made up 128 sign-up sheets and we ran out. So we made up some more in a hurry,” said Andrea Gilbert.

NE-Riverfest-DCLR-PO-31Observer photo/Mike Lange

    SHIP AHOY — The Piscataquis Community High School Class of 1963 pirate ship was a crowd favorite at the Redneck River Festival this year. For more photos, please see pages 10-11 .

    “I thought we’d get 40 or 50, tops,” said Tom Gilbert with a smile. “This was actually (Guilford Town Manager) Tom Goulette’s idea. He suggested it to Andrea when she stopped over to pay our taxes one day.”
    The Gilberts brought 26 piglets, drew 10 names apiece from three age groups and turned the kids and porkers loose. If the youngster didn’t catch a pig, they were rewarded with another prize from Herring Brothers.
    “I’m really happy with the turnout. We might do it differently next year, but we’ll definitely be back,” Tom Gilbert said.

NE-RiverFest7-DC-PO-31Observer photo/Mike Lange

    ENJOYING THE DAY — The midway at the Redneck River Festival was packed Saturday as the crowds enjoy food, children’s games, the tsunami water slide, music by Emerald Sky and the Still Water Band, the pig scramble and much more.

    The pig scramble was only one of the success stories at this year’s event, nicknamed the Redneck River Festival. There were plenty of outhouses, gap-toothed smiles, beer cans and camouflage in the parade that stretched from the boat landing on Route 15 to the ball field where the exhibits were set up.
    The most eye-catching float was a pirate ship manned by the Piscataquis Community High School Class of 1963 with 22 classmates decked out in buccaneer gear. “Captain” Jeff Harris, who designed the float, said that many volunteers put the ship together in three nights. “Tony and Cheryl Pomerleau, Jeannie and John Lemieux and Pam and Don Smith did a lot of the work, but almost everyone contributed in some way,” Harris said. The class had an organizational meeting, and all those who attended “chipped in enough money to buy supplies, and we had enough left over for breakfast.”

NE-Riverfest3-DC-PO-31Observer photo/Mike Lange

    CATCH ME IF YOU CAN — More than 150 youngsters signed up for the Herring Brothers pig scramble in three age groups. Youngsters’ names were drawn at random and everyone had a chance to catch a piglet.

    The festival midway featured a tsunami water slide which attracted long lines, especially after the temperature climbed in the afternoon. But the warm weather didn’t curtail the cooks who served everything from hamburgers to fresh popcorn.
    “We’re trying to raise money to buy a new mat for the wrestling team. Those run around $8,000,” said Jim Lane of the PCHS Wrestling Boosters while turning over half-chickens on the grill. “We’re going to make a lot more money here than we would on a bottle drive.”

NE-RiverFest5-DC-PO-31Observer photo/Mike Lange

    LUNCH TIME — Sangerville firefighters, from left, Orman Gray, Jerry Rush and Bernard Larrabee had a busy lunch hour during the River Festival.

    Author-teacher Walter Boomsma sold and autographed several copies of his book “Small People – Big Brains” and gave out more than 200 Valley Grange balloons. “You couldn’t ask for better weather. I’m pleased with the turnout, and book sales have been good,” Boomsma said.
    House in the Woods is a program that organizes hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation trips for disabled veterans, and executive director Paul House and his wife, Dee, set up an exhibit at the festival. “At first, I wasn’t too crazy about the location,” Paul House joked, pointing out the proximity of the portable rest rooms. “But on the other hand, people have to ‘go’ sometime. So we’re certainly visible.”

NE-RiverFest8-DC-PO-31Observer photo/Mike Lange

    JUST MY SIZE — Ken Beach of Blanchard picks up a Redneck River Festival souvenir T-shirt from volunteer Nathanlie Marsh.

    The Lee couple said that Piscataquis County has always been a stronghold of support for veterans, so they were eager to attend the festival. “Rowell’s Garage donated this van to us,” Paul House said. “It was a mini-school bus with a working handicapped ramp. All we had to do was paint it.”
    Many people picked up brochures about House in the Woods or bought hats, shirts and T-shirts to help support the non-profit organization. “We’re slowly getting the word out,” said Dee House, “and many combat veterans are stopping by just to say thanks.”

NE-RiverFest6-DC-PO-31Observer photo/Mike Lange

    TAKING A BREAK — Author-teacher Walter Boomsma of Abbot poses with young fans, from left, Alissa Chiasson, Emily Northrup and Emma Chiasson.

NE-RiverFest9-DC-PO-31Observer photos/Mike Lange

    RIVERFEST PARADE — Many Piscataquis River Festival parade floats used the redneck theme this year with some humorous results.






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