MILBRIDGE, Maine — A simmering row among a small group of people at the Milbridge Days’ Cod Fish Races on Saturday spilled over into the family-oriented fun and turned into a brawl involving 50 to 60 people, sending two the hospital and resulting in several summonses and an arrest.
At least 12 police units, including seven Maine State Police troopers and five Washington County sheriff’s deputies, responded to the melee at the annual Cod Fish Races on High Street about 4 p.m. Saturday. Two people were taken to a hospital for treatment, including the Milbridge town manager.
Trooper Barry Curtis said three or four smaller fights earlier in the day led up to the afternoon brawl.
When the dust settled, families with small children in tow had scattered to safety and police had charged four people with assault or disorderly conduct.
Curtis said the fighting began earlier in the afternoon when a group of people objected to the way a person had been driving a vehicle in Milbridge that day.
“It escalated into a pushing contest and just kind of kept going,” Curtis said. “It blossomed again on a side street and in the middle of the Cod Fish Races it really got a little out of hand.”
Curtis said the fighting was fueled by alcohol.
Town Manager Lewis Pinkham, who also serves as the town’s police chief, was injured when he was knocked to the ground while attempting to stop the fight. Pinkham and another person, whose name was not available Sunday, were taken in personal vehicles to Down East Community Hospital in Machias for treatment of mi-nor injuries.
Arrested for assault was Aaron Kennedy, 26, of Cherryfield. He was taken to Washington County Jail. Three other people were issued summonses for disorderly conduct, Curtis said. Their names were not immediately available.
“It is really too bad,” Curtis said. “This was supposed to be a family and community fun event.”
Curtis said at least four state and county police units stayed in the area for the rest of the evening Saturday to make sure there was no more trouble.
Grace Kennedy, one of the event’s organizers, said Sunday that the brawl was an unusual occurrence.
“That was just some foolishness and really didn’t have anything to do with Milbridge Days,” she said.
Kennedy said that after and during the brawl, many people headed toward Main Street to a “Cruise In,” where a live band performed. “Some people even did a little dancing,” she said.
Hundreds of people enjoyed a full day of activities, Kennedy said, including a lobster bake, a pageant, a car show, an art exhibit and a parade.
“We all had a great, awesome day,” she said. Despite the ruckus, “this was one of the best Milbridge Days ever.”
The Cod Fish Races are part of the annual Milbridge Days town birthday party. The races are held in a baseball field on a 90-foot course. Each team consists of four people who must dress in four pieces of firemen’s gear and then run across the field clenching a greased, dead, 20-pound cod. About midtrack, firemen spray a stream of water from their hoses through the running codfish-wielding racers who try to dodge the dousing.