Masons to celebrate state and Grand Lodge bicentennials Saturday

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DOVER-FOXCROFT — In 1820 Maine became the 23rd state, separating from Massachusetts, and the Grand Lodge of Masons in Maine was established. The first Governor of the State of Maine, William King, was also the first Grand Master of Masons in Maine. In recognition and celebration of these historic events Chris Russell, District Deputy Grand Master of Maine’s 5th Masonic District, has organized a celebration for Saturday, Oct. 5 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Piscataquis Valley Fairgrounds.

The general public, area Masons, friends and families are invited to attend this free event. A sumptuous cookout will offer locally sourced food courtesy of generous local farmers. The free meal will start at noon and will include grilled burgers and hot dogs, potato salad, other salads and vegetables, condiments, and drinks, all topped off by memorable desserts.

Entertainment will follow. First, a brief original play by local Freemason Dannel H. Starbird, with historical assistance from Walter MacDougall, Don McDougal and Dennis Greene. Characters will be portrayed by Jeff Cross, Tim Briggs, Bill Pinkham and John Curran. It will chronicle four Mainers in Williamsburg, as they discuss world events, the new state and Masonry in Maine.

Following this short play (less than a half hour), Erin Callaway and Steve Grammont of the new Piscataquis Regional Food Center will describe the development and operation of their facility. They offer food for homebound seniors, and serve as a regional redistribution center for the Good Shepherd Food Bank.

The last offering will be a brief video presentation described as “A Brief Trivial History” by Brad Harris of LaGrange. Each event will be followed by a brief discussion if there is interest.

The Grand Master of Masons in Maine, Mark Rustin, will have closing remarks for the assembled group. Elected head of the state’s approximately 16,000 Masons, he is the organization’s official leader. A Congregational minister by profession, he has also worked in law enforcement and has an abiding interest in education.

Fifth District Masonic Lodges, by name, location, and date incorporated, include: Penobscot Lodge (Dexter/1822), Piscataquis Lodge (Milo/1823), Mosaic Lodge (Dover-Foxcroft/1827), Mt. Kineo Lodge (Guilford/1862), Columbia-Doric Lodge (Greenville/1869), Pleasant River Lodge (Brownville/1872) and Abner-Wade Lodge (Sangerville/1903).

Although Masonic Lodges are prominent in Maine communities, members have historically been quiet and retiring. Although not secret, by tradition being a Mason has been a private and confidential matter. In modern times, a more open approach to civic involvement has led Masons to discuss their community support, charitable giving and support for education. The Shriners (a Masonic organization) is well known for its children’s hospitals. Bikes for Books programs in schools, the Santa Project supporting Christmas meals for families in the area, the Bangor and Portland Dyslexia Centers and support of sickle cell anemia research are but a few examples of Masonic projects.

The public is invited, all are welcome at the celebration on Oct. 5 at the fairground dining hall. Access is barrier-free, parking is ample and a good time is planned. Come enjoy a fine free meal, pleasant company and entertainment. Call or text Chris Russell (717-8828) for information.

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