There is something about a love story, whether it is about people, places or things, that is good for the soul.
And when you happen upon a love story that is about people, places and things, well, it just doesn’t get any better.
This three-dimensional love story came to me via a simple email request from Karen Smallwood, asking if I would consider writing about Cranberry Fest 2011, which Karen and Hugh Smallwood are putting together on Little Cranberry Island to raise funds for the Islesford Neighborhood House, which is in need of some updating and a new septic system, Karen wrote.
Cranberry Fest 2011 is set for 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13, on Little Cranberry Island, or Islesford, as it is also known.
Featuring nine bands and food sold by Islesford Dock Restaurant, proceeds will help with improvements to Islesford Neighborhood House.
Advance reservations are suggested and advance tickets, including admission and boat fare, are $35 each which is quite a savings, according to Karen, because tickets the day of the event are $25 plus a $28 round-trip boat fare.
Children 3-11 are free but must pay a $14 boat fare, and children under 3 do not pay a boat fare. For those already on the island, advance tickets are $20 and event-day tickets are $25.
Boats leave from Northeast Harbor and Southwest Harbor and reservations and information is available at cranberrymusicfest.com.
Now for the soul of this story.
Karen and Hugh Smallwood have known each other since they were children. She grew up on the island and he was a summer resident who visited with his family throughout his childhood.
“Hugh’s first wife died nearly 18 years ago,” Karen said. “He’s 10 years older than I and has two grown children.”
But the couple had always known each other, and they married in 1995.
Their love for each other is deeply connected to the place portion of this love story: Little Cranberry Island.
Part of the Town of the Cranberry Isles that includes Great Cranberry, Baker Island, Sutton’s Island and Bear Island, Karen explained “the reason Little Cranberry-Islesford has two names is that back before zip codes they needed to do something to keep the mail straight,” hence Islesford for “Little” Cranberry Island.
By the way, part of the marriage proposal, Karen told me, was that the couple would spend half the year on the island and half the year in Hugh’s home base of Baltimore, Md., which Karen says has worked well for them.
And as for the things they both love, well, among them, is the Neighborhood House.
“Islesford Neighborhood House is the soul of the community,” Karen said. “It’s the social hub; other than my mother’s kitchen.
“It’s the place where everything happens. Every graduation, including mine; my wedding reception; so many dances.
“We went there after my father was buried, and gathered. It’s used for everything.”
Karen said it’s a wonderful facility and that, in the summertime, the entire building can be used but a large portion of the old building is not winterized.
“We also have a wonderful facility for theater, with a very nice stage, so we have lots of hope and wishes for what INH [Islesford Neighborhood House] could be used for if the whole thing were winterized,” she explained.
Last year, Karen and Hugh organized a small version of Cranberry Fest and they’re hoping, with the economy and people considering more “stay-cations” this year, that the lineup will attract as many people as the boats can handle.
Returning from Baltimore, Md., for his second Cranberry Fest appearance will be Cameron Blake with Ellen Cherry and Ben Rayne, also Marylanders.
Two Belgrade bands, The Gawler Family and Free Seedlings, will play, as will two Portland representatives, Gypsy Tailwind and Sara Cox.
The lineup also includes Thomas A. Minor and the Picket Line of Louisville, Ky., and Bobby Houck of the Blue Dogs of Charleston, S.C.
Adding to the musical festivities will be Hugh and a group of other local musicians who get together and jam on a weekly basis.
CDs, T-shirts and souvenirs will be available, and Karen suggests, if you can, you should bring sunscreen, hats and chairs or blankets to sit on, although some folding chairs from the Neighborhood House will be available.
You also are welcome to bring a picnic lunch.
“We hope it all works out,” Karen said. “The music will be great, no matter what the weather.”
For information about Islesford and the Neighborhood House, go to islesford.com and click on Neighborhood House.