MACHIAS, Maine — Margaretta Day, a snapshot of how it might have been to live in the time of the American Revolution, will be held this month in Machias.
The celebration has been named by Yankee Magazine as one of the 20 best activities in Maine for the summer months.
The event will include a breakfast, a parade and Colonial day activities that include Revolutionary War re-enactors; Passamaquoddy Indians; antler toss competition; Acadia Frontiersmen, which includes an ax toss event; blacksmithing; trapping; craftsmen and authentic period food such as baked beans, meat pies and fruit desserts.
“This is like time traveling,” volunteer coordinator Carlene Holmes said Tuesday. “It will be like going back to 1775 for one day.”
Holmes explained that the event is named for the Margaretta, a British supply ship captured by the colonists on June 12, 1775, in Machias, which became the first naval battle in the Revolutionary War.
“The previous winter came to be known as The Winter of The Clams,” Holmes said. “The colonists were starving to death and had nothing to eat but clams dug from the river’s edge.”
While awaiting the arrival of the Margaretta and her life-saving supplies, the colonists heard of the Battle of Lexington and, legend tells, erected a Liberty Pole in support of their fellow countrymen. When the captain of the Margaretta arrived, he was incensed at the sight of the pole and threatened to fire upon the town, refusing to deliver the supplies until the pole was cut down. The people of Machias chose patriotism over hunger and attacked first.
They captured two companion British ships, the Unity and the Polly, and then jumped aboard the fleeing Margaretta, armed with nothing but pitchforks and other farming tools. They captured the ship and brought its fatally injured captain to the Burnham Tavern, now a local museum.
The idea for Margaretta Day was hatched by a former Chamber of Commerce director Louise West in 2004. Although all the organizers are volunteers, the Chamber of Commerce and Machias Savings Bank fund some events.
“Every year it gets bigger and better,” Holmes said. “We are very proud of our heritage here and hope to educate lots of people about the Margaretta and its place in American history.”
All events are held Saturday, June 11, on the grounds of the University of Maine at Machias, with the exception of a 7:30 a.m. pancake breakfast at the Machias Grange Hall. A parade will begin at 10 a.m. at Helen’s Restaurant and proceed south on Route 1 to UMM.
On the university’s mall, children’s activities, re-enactor encampments, historic activities, weaving, blacksmithing, timber framing, and other activities will be held. There also will be a large contingent of contemporary artists and crafters, food, and presentations by actors portraying the various principles in the Margaretta story.
Other activities include: 11 a.m. UMM Ukulele Band; 1:15 p.m. fiddling; 1:30 p.m. Passamaquoddy dancing; noon, 2 and 2:30 p.m., storytellers.
The Burnham Tavern Museum, which is located on Colonial Way in downtown Machias, will be open for tours from noon to 4 p.m.
“This will be a day of fun, with a bit of history thrown in,” Holmes said.
For more information visit www.washingtoncountymaine.com/margaretta, the Facebook page Margaretta Days Festival of Machias, Maine, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.