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Moxie Festival celebrates a uniquely Maine taste

Designed to resemble Charles Lindbergh's &quotThe Spirit of St. Louis," this float in the Moxie Festival Parade in Lisbon was called &quotThe Spirit of Moxie."
Moxie Festival Committee
Designed to resemble Charles Lindbergh's "The Spirit of St. Louis," this float in the Moxie Festival Parade in Lisbon was called "The Spirit of Moxie."
Posted June 20, 2012, at 2:26 p.m.

Celebrate a soft drink unique to Maine by attending the 30th Anniversary Moxie Festival, slated to take place July 13-15 in Lisbon.

Sold in distinctive orange cans with white lettering, Moxie first appeared in 1876 as a patent medicine developed by Dr. Augustin Thompson, who hailed from Union in Knox County. He first sold Moxie in Lowell, Mass., but the soft drink’s popularity shifted north to Maine.

According to www.moxiefestival.com, Thompson initially marketed Moxie “to cure multiple ills, including ‘a loss of manhood, paralysis and softening of the brain.’” Competing against many other patent medicines, Moxie underwent a transformation in 1884 and became “Beverage Moxie Nerve Food,” a soft drink.

In a national soft-drink market dominated by a few corporate giants, Moxie retains a strong foothold in Maine, and fans converge on Lisbon every July to celebrate this soft drink and its “take it or leave it” taste. Fans already know that Moxie’s the official soft drink of Maine, and they want folks who’ve never heard of Moxie to taste-test it while visiting Maine this summer.

“Moxie’s appeal is its unique, time-tested taste and association with Maine that spans over 100 years,” said Debra Wagner, spokeswoman for the Moxie Festival Committee. “Those from away try Moxie when visiting Maine, and the experience quickly becomes a highlight of their vacation. Native Mainers fondly recall Moxie as part of intergenerational family gatherings for decades.”

Lisbon’s connection to Moxie “is Frank Ancetti and the Kennebec Fruit Company located on Main Street …in downtown Lisbon Falls,” Wagner said. Ancetti’s ancestors collected Moxie memorabilia, which soon led to the Kennebec Fruit Co. selling Moxie ice cream and serving ice-cold Moxie to customers.

While researching his book “Moxie Mystique” in the late 1970s, author Frank Potter met with Ancetti to discuss Moxie minutiae. Potter returned to Lisbon Falls for a book signing, and 500 people turned out to have their Moxie books autographed.

Within a few years, additional events tied in with Potter’s book signings, and the Moxie Festival took on a life of its own. Lisbon public-safety officials estimated that more than 50,000 people attended last year’s festival; a similar turnout is expected for 2012.

The 30th Anniversary Moxie Festival will feature activities for everybody, from the Moxie 5K Road Race to the Moxie Festival Parade to a Moxie chugging contest. Festivities will kick off when the Spirit of the Wolf Pow Wow opens behind Lisbon High School. Entertainers will perform at the Mid Town Plaza on Route 196 beginning at 4 p.m., and a fireworks display will be launched from that plaza at 9:15 p.m.

Among the Moxie-centric events taking place this weekend are:

• The Moxie Festival Parade, which will start at 10 a.m. and run until 12 noon on Saturday, July 14.

• The Moxie Recipe Contest will involve different food items flavored with Moxie. Judging will take place from 1-2 p.m., July 14.

Among the food items utilizing Moxie are Moxie Baked Beans, Moxie Chocolate Cake (absolutely delicious), Moxie Chops, and Moxie Wings.

• The Moxie 5K Road Race will begin at 7:30 a.m., July 14 in downtown Lisbon.

• The Moxie Chug-N-Challenge will take place from 2-3 p.m., July 14 at the Moxie Store at the corner of Maine Street and Route 196 in Lisbon Falls. Each contestant will pay a $5 entry fee; all Moxie chugging must be done from cans, and using a glass or plastic bottle will disqualify a contestant. Contestants are allowed two minutes to drink as much Moxie as possible; every contestant starts with a 12-pack of Moxie and takes home however many cans are remaining after the competition ends. The Chugging Winner also receives a free 12-pack of Moxie cans.

• Music entertainment will be featured at the pavilion on School Street as the Moxie Festival and the Lisbon Concert in the Park Series combine to sponsor the Moxie Concert in the Park on Saturday, July 14. Among the featured entertainment groups are the Brian Maes Band and the Mallett Brothers Band. The music starts at 4 p.m.; admission is free.

• The Moxie Car Show will open at 8 a.m., July 15 at Lisbon High School. Winners will receive Moxie-style trophies; among the events affiliated with this show are a car corral and a swap meet.

• The 13th Annual Chief Worumbo Androscoggin River Race will start at 11 a.m., July 15 at the Route 136 boat ramp on the Androscoggin River in Durham. The race course is south along the Androscoggin to the Sabattus River boat ramp on Route 196.

Wagner invites Mainers and tourists alike to join the Moxie Festival festivities. “We put a moxie vigor, verve, nerve, and native know-how into all of our events,” she said.

For more information about the Moxie Festival, log onto www.moxiefestival.com or contact John Sil-vestri (festival chairman) at (207) 353-4862 or johnandei@roadrunner.com or Debra Wagner, media con-tact, at (207) 992-8997 or debwagner@gwi.net.

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