LINCOLN, Maine — If you want to attract a nationally recognized blues-rock band that has opened for Lynyrd Skynyrd, B.B. King and Stone Temple Pilots, it helps to know the band’s drummer.
It was that connection — specifically Town Manager Lisa Goodwin’s brother being best friends with drummer and Lincoln native Paul Broderick, plus some persuasive Facebook chatter — that helped the 2011 Lincoln Homecoming Festival land what is probably its biggest musical act yet, the Sean Chambers Band, organizers said Tuesday.
“We actually got a nationally known touring band, and I think that puts our festival higher than it has been, especially in the blues market, where it’s tough to get those kinds of acts,” said Town Clerk Shelly Crosby, the homecoming’s former coordinator. “This is the biggest band we have ever had.”
The homecoming event goes into full gear at 8 a.m. Thursday and ends on Sunday. Crosby estimated that it drew a crowd of about 13,000 people last year.
Homecoming features a fireworks show, parades, dances, barbecues, a road race, auctions, car shows, live music, sidewalk sales, high school class reunions, athletic competitions and lots of food.
The event is Lincoln’s largest. It usually draws 10,000 to 12,000 people and jams streets, hotels and motels, crowds sidewalks on Main Street with foot traffic and fills restaurants around town. It is held at Cobb Field, downtown, Veterans Square, Lincoln Memorial Library and Prince Thomas Park, among other sites.
It also typically has comedy shows, but after four years of success hosting comedians, the town’s homecoming committee and the event’s organizers decided to shift Homecoming’s focus to music to keep it fresh.
Polling of event attendees and head counts at Cobb Field, where much of the music is played, showed that music was increasingly popular. An estimated 8,000 people attended concerts there as part of homecoming last year, compared with about 1,500 in 2007, Crosby said.
“There is also a lot of musical talent around here” that makes highlighting music a lot easier, Crosby said.
Broderick also has played with some of the local bands, and members of his band opted to come to Lincoln because they respect his abilities and want to see where he’s from, Crosby said.
Music won’t be the only popular event at Homecoming. The parade on Saturday, which last year drew 128 units, had 50 signed up as of Tuesday, with more sign-ups expected right until that morning, said town events coordinator Amanda R. Beaulieu, who replaced Crosby in that position when she became town clerk.
Organizations interested in signing up for the parade or reviewing Homecoming events can do so at the town’s website, Lincolnmaine.org.