OLD TOWN, Maine — People from all over the region, most with ties to the community, mixed with hundreds of local residents to converge on downtown Saturday for the 14th annual Old Town Riverfest.
“My daughter is in the parade,” said Milford resident Becky Van Beneden. “She’s the homecoming queen.”
Her daughter is Old Town senior Annie Cashon.
Fellow Milford resident Mary Rustin said she came to the event because her granddaughter Shawna Rustin was painting faces at the children’s carnival.
Holden residents Andy and Nancy Koziol arrived in town to watch their granddaughter Riley Marquis perform with the Old Town High School band.
Seven residents from the Elizabeth Levinson Center in Bangor rolled up in wheelchairs to watch the parade and smiled as the colorful and musical groups went by.
Bradley resident Wallace Cote said he came to town just for the parade, which he watched from his car.
Indian Island resident Stella Hamilton said she has attended the festival every year and says it has a way of drawing people together.
“I think it’s good,” she said. “It gives us something to do and the kids enjoy it.”
Her 15-year-old daughter, Wiphun Lewen, rode through town on the Class of 2014 float.
The local festival is a great place for Old Town residents to run into friends and neighbors, said Shannon Johnson, who brought her daughter Isabelle Ward, 11, and friend Samantha Lunt, 10.
“We’ve seen a lot of people already,” she said as the parade began at 10 a.m. Saturday.
“I come every year,” Ward said, adding that this year she and her mom would sell popcorn during the carnival to raise money for the parent-teacher club.
Jeanne and Jim Roy came out to this year’s festival to support a friend, who rode in a red convertible as part of the 1950s class reunion parade entry.
“We live right in town, but this is the first time we came down,” Jeanne Roy said. “We wanted to wave to her.”
Cody Miller, who graduated from Old Town two years ago and who played drums for the school, said, “I’ve got to watch my band” as the school’s marching band passed by where he was standing.
The parade’s grand marshals were Joe and Sue Cyr.
The annual Riverfest celebration was held in conjunction with Old Town High School’s annual homecoming with a Friday football game, a free ice cream social sponsored by the Rotary Club, a performance by Karmin on the bandstand and fireworks to end the evening.
The fifth annual Ride for a Cure — Brenda Sibley Memorial Ride — kicked off Saturday’s events, which in addition to the parade included children’s games and food concessions that filled Riverfront Park.
Attendees also could enjoy live music and marching band demonstrations, watch the firefighters muster or see the woodsmen’s demonstration by University of Maine students. People also could go on a wagon ride, or canoe or kayak in the river.
A dog show and blessing of the animals were Sunday’s featured events.
The Roys said they enjoyed the parade, except for the sometimes long breaks between floats, but were disappointed in one aspect.
“Nobody threw candy at us,” Jeanne Roy said. Someone must have heard her wish because a handful of sweet stuff soon came flying her way.
After enjoying a morsel of sweet goodness, she said with a smile, “I think we will return” next year.