East Millinocket playing movies to make money for SummerFest

East Millinocket residents Brayden Gagnon (center), 2, and Jordan Gagnon, 4, sit with their mother Laura King during the East Millinocket SummerFest 2011 in July 2011.
East Millinocket residents Brayden Gagnon (center), 2, and Jordan Gagnon, 4, sit with their mother Laura King during the East Millinocket SummerFest 2011 in July 2011. Buy Photo
Posted Feb. 23, 2012, at 7:33 p.m.

EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine — Katahdin region residents tired of traveling to Bangor or Old Town to see a movie can find a showing Sunday that will benefit town volunteer efforts to put on a SummerFest 2012, organizers said Thursday.

The movies “A Warrior’s Heart” and “Paranormal Activity 3” will play at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday at the renovated Town Office auditorium for $5 each. The admission ticket also includes popcorn and a soft drink, said Kim Marston, one of the main organizers of last year’s SummerFest.

Marston and Kelly Willigar have raised about $5,000 of the $8,000 they feel they need to run SummerFest, which is scheduled this year for July 5-8. They find that a mix of family fare and horror movies works best at drawing good crowds, Marston said.

“We first started out with G movies, but that’s not turning out so great. We are finding out that the teenagers like the scary movies,” Marston said Thursday.

This year’s SummerFest is a continuation of an effort last year by Willigar and Marston to put on the annual town celebration. Town leaders said last year’s event, which drew more than 5,000 people, would not have happened without the extraordinary commitment of the two volunteers.

They raised $6,500 on their own to help fund it after town leaders realized that the closure of the Main Street paper mill would deprive them of the $10,000 usually allotted to the event, among many other things. Though the mill is now reopened, it generates far less tax revenue than it once did, so Marston and Willigar will likely seek only $500 to $1,000 for SummerFest this year, Marston said.

The auditorium, which decades ago was the town’s primary theater, is a perfect location for the movies, Marston said. The outdoor movie screen and sound system the volunteers have borrowed from the Katahdin Area Chamber of Commerce for the movie showings fit beautifully within the renovated structure, Marston said.

Film showings like this deepen the community’s sense of togetherness, Marston said.

“If we can get a full balcony every time, that would be worth our while,” Marston said. “It is a beautiful community center and it is a part of the heritage of this town. This is what this building was used for originally years and years ago. And if you don’t have a sense of community, what do you have?”

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