Patten prepares for Pioneer Days festival

Posted July 27, 2010, at 7:40 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:54 a.m.

PATTEN, Maine — Jennifer Hartsgrove thought nobody would want to eat three lunches in one day, not even free lunches.

“Who,” she said, “can eat three lunches in a day?”

Yet the Katahdin Valley Health Center, Katahdin Trust Co. and Eastmill Federal Credit Union had scheduled free lunches on Aug. 13 as part of their contribution to the Patten Pioneer Days 2010 celebration, she said.

Trust company branch manager Emily Hosford had a better idea.

She suggested to Hartsgrove, a town selectwoman, that instead of competing for celebration participants, the three should join with seven other town businesses on that Friday, one of the celebration’s busier days, and hold what they called the Progressive Main Street Lunch, Hartsgrove said.

As part of the lunch, celebration participants will collect stamps at the 10 businesses as they collect individual lunch items — whoopie pies, sandwiches, chips, etc. — from those places from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Hartsgrove said.

Those who fill with stamps a card Pioneer Days organizers provide will receive a prize and be eligible for a raffle, Town Manager Terri Conklin said.

“It’s a neat idea,” Hartsgrove said Tuesday, “and we were surprised at how everybody went along with it.”

The progressive lunch is one of the highlights of the Pioneer Days celebration, which will run Aug. 9-15 in Patten, a rural farming community in the northern part of Penobscot County.

A children’s beauty pageant for ages 4-14, bird show, Hawaiian luau, car hop, teddy bear picnic, sidewalk chalk contest, frog jumping competition, kids parade on Main Street and a fireworks show at Shin Pond Village are among the celebration’s offerings, Hartsgrove said.

“It’s important for our community to unite for a week. All the businesses get together to sponsor events and provide fun activities, especially for children,” she said.

Though festival attendance has declined in recent years, Hartsgrove, Conklin and fellow organizer Karen McGraw, the town’s new recreation director, hope to see a resurgence with all of the events they have added to the celebration.

“We are bringing a lot of stuff back to try and make it more popular,” Hartsgrove said.

For more than 40 years, the festival has been the town’s single biggest public event, Conklin said. The celebration’s anchor continues to be the Lumberman’s Museum’s 45th annual bean dinner, which runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 14.

The dinner will feature a blacksmith demonstration, scavenger hunt for kids, antique engine display, car show, arts and crafts, and live music.

Pioneer Days is townwide, but most of it occurs at the Patten Women’s Club Park and Ball Field on Main Street.

Some of the Pioneer Days events are available in a schedule at gotopatten.com. People who want to attend should check the website, call the town office at 528-2215 for details, or look for fliers that organizers plan to have available around town next week.

The fliers were being printed Tuesday and should be at the town office by early next week, Conklin said.

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