Residents of the small northern Maine town of Allagash consider themselves “Moosetowners.” And as they move through their daily lives — many of them relocating around the state and across the country — they proudly retain their Moosetowner label.
So when some residents of Allagash started planning a festival that would coincide with this year’s 125th anniversary of the town, they didn’t have to spend much time thinking up a name.
“A girl from Allagash said, ‘Why don’t we call it Moosestock?’” and that was it. Done. Done deal,” said one of the organizers, Moosetowner Darlene Kelly Dumond.
Organizers first started thinking about staging a major event last year but decided that a 2011 event would give them more time to plan, and would nicely dovetail with the anniversary party.
And while Dumond estimates Allagash’s current population at about 200, she said that wouldn’t stop its residents from pulling out the stops for what they think will be a major event.
“Over the years, when Allagash has had a celebration, people remember it for many, many years, and this is another one,” Dumond said. “Everyone turns out for it and does everything they can to ensure that when our folks come home they have a great time and can’t wait for the next one.”
And while Dumond is hoping the “next one” could happen, in some form, as early as next year, the first Moosestock will run from July 1-4.
“We’ve been talking about it for a year. We’ve given [potential visitors and former Allagash residents] plenty of time to make their vacation [plans] around it and a lot of people are coming home,” Dumond said. We expect a couple thousand people, at least.”
Working in Moosestock’s favor, Dumond said, is a relative lack of big July 4 celebrations planned for the area.
“We’re going to be the only thing,” she said.
And visitors will likely find that “the only thing” offers just about everything they’re looking for — and some things they didn’t know they were looking for.
- Live bands every night.
- An anything-that-floats regatta on the Allagash River.
- An arts and crafts fair.
- A frying pan throwing contest for women.
- A fly casting contest and horseshoe tournament.
- Fireworks and bonfires.
- A free chicken barbecue, courtesy of Northern Maine Loggers.
- A knockoff of TV’s “Amazing Race,” which will be staged on ATVs.
- A 30-mile yard sale that will stretch from Fort Kent to Allagash.
- A Sunday fun day for children, featuring greased pig racing, bobbing for apples and antler-making, among other activities.
- An old-timers softball game.
- An outhouse race.
That’s right. An outhouse race.
“[People are] building outhouses and [will compete on] five-man teams. One man has to sit inside and four have to carry the outhouse and they’re going to race around Allagash High School,” Dumond said.
Dumond said that as the population of Allagash has dwindled over the years, there have been many changes. The high school was closed. Some residents moved on. Churches were shuttered.
“For the first time in years — and this is one of the things that I’m most proud of — all three of our churches are going to be open for Sunday services,” Dumond said. “Right now, and for years, it’s only been the Baptist church. We’re opening the Pentecostal church, the Baptist church and the Catholic church [on July 3].”
Moosestock will reflect the attitude of the friendly Allagash residents, according to Dumond.
“There’s cookouts, cookouts, cookouts,” she said. “Everybody’s having family reunions and they’re all free and open to everybody.”
Dumond said that Allagash residents have pitched in to spruce up the town and organize Moosestock.
“Everybody just comes together. Sometimes in our little communities that are dwindling, we need that,” Dumond said. “And we need it to regenerate and recharge ourselves, and that’s what people are doing here.”