LINCOLN, Maine — Some new acts, wider publicity, glorious weather and a record-setting number of vendors helped the four-day 2010 Lincoln Homecoming Festival draw an unprecedented 13,000 people, organizers said Sunday.
Town events coordinator Shelly Crosby based her crowd estimate for homecoming, which began Thursday and ended Sunday, on conversations with police and fire officials, business owners around town and several anecdotal signs that this year’s festival was beyond the norm.
“It was by far the best homecoming we have had,” Crosby said Sunday. “The homecoming committee managed to meet all of the goals set for it in that we had a lot of activities for all age groups and got a very positive response from the public.”
Homecoming features a fireworks show, parades, dances, barbecues, a road race, auctions, car shows, live music, sidewalk sales, high school class reunions, a circus and — new this year but very popular — a nationally recognized BMX and skateboarding show that drew a lot of teens, Crosby said.
Budgeted by the town at $31,000, the event is Lincoln’s largest of the year. It usually draws 10,000 to 12,000 people and typically jams streets, hotels and motels, crowds sidewalks on Main Street with foot traffic and fills restaurants around town. It is held at Cobb Field, downtown, Veterans Square, Lincoln Memorial Library and Prince Thomas Park, among other sites.
Crosby won’t know final figures for expenses for several weeks, but expects the festival to at least break even. It typically does, but even if it doesn’t, she and committee member Brenda Jipson figured that town business response would be so positive that it would rectify any loss.
“As large as it was, I could have gone larger-scale, but I kept it contained to what I thought I had for available space and manpower,” Crosby said of homecoming.
No violence was reported. A few possible cases of heat exhaustion at the fireworks show were treated at the scene, Crosby said.
More than 75 businesses and charitable organizations, including the Lincoln Lakes Chamber of Commerce, Knights of Columbus and Lincoln Fire Company, sponsored the festival or contributed with in-kind donations. The in-kind donations topped $10,000, Crosby said.
Well over 100 volunteers assisted, many leaving work and coming unannounced to help, Jipson said. So many teenage volunteers came to assist the Rise Above Extreme Entertainment BMX-Skateboarding Pro Show on Saturday that many were turned away.
The anecdotal signs include:
ä The fireworks show seating area at Cobb on Saturday was expanded by a third, and still filled to capacity. An estimated 7,000 people were at the field.
ä A record 118 units marched in Saturday’s parade, including 26 last-minute entries. At its zenith, the parade covered more than 2 miles and took two hours to conclude, Crosby said.
ä About 50 vendors filled Veterans Square to capacity, plus another 25 for- and nonprofit vendors put booths at other locations downtown and around town, all records.
As many as 10 vendors were refused slots due to a lack of space or electrical outlets. The town had to “borrow” electricity from the CWA & Lake Street Real Estate office, Penobscot Valley Hospital and Machias Savings Bank downtown to accommodate vendors, Crosby said.
“We are going to be looking to upgrade the electrical systems and improve vendor placement for next year’s festival,” Crosby said.
ä Thursday’s noon to 10 p.m. sales of $1 glow-sticks, Arizona tea drinks and bounce house tickets, $10 town calendars and Monster Energy drinks earned $863, another record, Crosby said, while several town merchants, including Wal-Mart and Steaks N’ Stuff, reported double-ordering ice and other items to meet demand. Several merchants told Crosby they had to hunt to find extra ice and bottled water, she said.
“It was really busy,” Steaks N’ Stuff baker Penny Noyes said. “We had to do twice the normal baking we do [in sandwich rolls] to keep up. It was busy from 7 a.m. Saturday until 9:30 p.m. We had to stay open an extra 30 minutes” to accommodate the crowd at closing.
The store sold about 210 watermelons on Saturday, store manager Arline Tetreault said.
The Lincoln Fire Company fundraiser sold 250 pounds of Italian sausage this year, compared to 100 last year, members said.
Wal-Mart assistant manager Flint Spaulding said he special-ordered a truckload of ice and bottled water to answer demand this weekend.
Crosby will begin working on next year’s homecoming celebration within a few months.
“Lincoln is becoming known as a hub for community events and down-home spirit,” she said, “so we have a lot of people and vendors looking to come here.”