Since the fall of 2006, members of the board of Caribou Children’s Discovery Museum and its president, Nancy Chandler, have been working to raise $1.5 million to make the dream of such a facility a reality in Aroostook County.
That dream gets closer every day and the board is doing what it can not only to raise the needed funds, but also to go ahead with planning something for children of The County that will enable them to enjoy learning through fun, Nancy said.
“We just hired an exhibit designer,” Nancy told me this week.
Representatives of Roto Studio of Dublin, Ohio, “are in the process of putting together a master plan, which will highlight all of the exhibits of the museum, and a design of the floor plan,” she said.
Anyone interested in the design work of this company should do as I did and visit its website, www.rotostudio.com. I was impressed with what I saw.
Just from viewing the home page slide show, you can feel the excitement generated by the colorful concepts and imagine the opportunities that could become available to youngsters in The County when this project becomes a reality.
Nancy told me one of the ideas for the museum is to have “a kid town that includes things like a fire department, a grocery store, hospital and even a [pretend] ATM machine. You’ve got to have that,” she said.
The plan also calls for a “tot spot, and next to that will be a reading area. We’d like to have a television station and a stage area, just to name a few,” she added.
The hope would be to locate the museum, either through purchasing an existing building or erecting a new one, in downtown Caribou “to help revitalize the community, which has been through many changes since Loring Air Force Base closed,” Nancy said of the former government facility, which was located in nearby Limestone.
“Downtown Caribou needs a shot in the arm, and we think the children’s museum would help,” she said.
The board expects to be able to use the Roto Studio designs and drawings to help solicit sponsors for each of the exhibits and, while several sponsors already have been lined up, Nancy said, the initial goal is about 20.
According to its website, the Davis Family Foundation, TD Bank Charitable Foundation and the Caribou Fire Department already have donated $10,000; and the Caribou Rotary Club and Key Bank have donated $5,000.
“We have a very long way to go,” Nancy admitted. “We will have what we call a Circle of 10 fundraiser, and people will be receiving letters in the mail asking for donations. A lot of people have to get behind this” for the museum to become a reality.
Besides seeking sponsorships for areas and exhibits in the proposed museum, CCDM has been holding an annual fundraiser, the Kounty Kids Got Talent Contest, and auditions and the show are coming right up.
Children ages 5 through 16 are invited to audition for the show beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 6, at the Caribou Performing Arts Center, which is located at Caribou High School, 308 Sweden St.
Sixteen finalists and two alternates will be chosen to compete in two age divisions, one for children age 10 and under, and the other for ages 11-16. The registration fee is $5 per contestant.
The Kounty Kids Got Talent Contest is at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 14, at CPAC.
Tickets for the show are $7 for adults, $5 for students, and can be purchased in advance or at the door. Advance tickets are available at the Aroostook Centre Mall in Presque Isle, Ezzy’s Music Shop in Van Buren, and at Mr. Paperback and Caribou Food Trend in Caribou.
The show “runs like ‘America’s Got Talent,’” Nancy said of the popular NBC television program.
The judges this year will be “Fireman Fred,” who is actually a member of the Presque Isle Fire Department, last year’s contest winner, Melanie Saucier of Fort Kent, and Miss Caribou, Alyson Michaud.
While members of the CHS National Honor Society are tabulating the votes, Nancy said, “each of the judges will perform.”
Anyone, anywhere, who has ties to Aroostook County can appreciate what a Children’s Museum would mean to youngsters growing up in the northernmost part of Maine.
If you are unable to attend this particular event, but want to help make this dream come true, send your tax-deductible contribution to Caribou Children’s Discovery Museum, P.O. Box 487, Caribou 04736.
More information is available by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting www.cariboudiscovery.org.
Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; email@example.com; 990-8288.