SHIRLEY, Maine — This small town in the Moosehead Lake region would have been called Somerset during its March 9, 1834, incorporation had it not been for a legislator who preferred the name Shirley.
This town, which will celebrate its 175th anniversary on Aug. 8, had its beginnings before 1834, according to local historian Everett Parker of Greenville. Shirley Township was originally a part of the “Million Acres” of the Bingham Kennebec Purchase, he said Friday. But the town officially was organized in 1834.
“Over the years, the land was subdivided and townships were carved out by hardy settlers,” Parker said. “Today, Shirley is one of 43 named townships created from the ‘Million Acres.’”
That rich history will be celebrated in style next month with events including a stamp cancellation and postcard available at the Shirley post office. The stamp, which features the three town buildings — the town hall, the fire station and the school, which was constructed the year the town was incorporated — was designed by John and Debi Lynne Baker.
Collectors can get the postmark for up to 30 days after the date of issue at the post office. To go along with the cancellation mark, 175th birthday postcards are available.
Debi Baker, an organizer of the celebration, said one of the highlights of the anniversary would be a birthday cake contest. “We are inviting all bakers of all ages to submit their favorite cakes for our birthday celebration,” Baker said this week. Judging will be in two categories: taste and a people’s choice award for the best-looking cake. First place in each category will receive $25 in cash. All participants will receive commemorative pins. There also is a children’s category with the same prizes.
Organizers promise the biggest parade this community has seen. Baker said groups already committed to the event include bagpipers, drummers and war veterans. Many local groups will have floats and there will be plenty of marching units and vehicles.
Another highlight will be a fireworks display at 9 p.m.
Baker said there also will be a craft show, concession stands, tours of public buildings, poetry readings, children’s games, book signings, a barbecue, and entertainment by Bobby and Gang with Linda Hamilton, Vintage Country, and Big Daddy and the Accelerators.
Old Home Sunday at the Shirley Community Church will be held on Aug. 9. A special service will be held at 10 a.m., and a dinner will be served at 11:30 a.m. at the Shirley Town Hall. The dinner will be $7 for adults, $3 for children 5-12, and children under 5 will be admitted free of charge. Proceeds from this event will benefit the Shirley Community Church operating fund. For information about Old Home Sunday, contact Everett Parker at 695-3163 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information about the cake contest and other anniversary events, call Baker at 695-2460. To register for the parade, call Colleen and Dave Taylor 695-0375.