ELLSWORTH, Maine — Things are starting to heat up for members of the local fire department and others who plan to host the 50th annual Maine State Federation of Firefighters convention next month.
Richard Tupper, chief of the Ellsworth Fire Department, said Thursday that a few thousand people “easily” could attend the three-day event, which is schedule to run Sept. 13-15. All convention events, with the exception of a parade planned for Saturday, Sept. 14, will be held at the former Lowe’s building (now owned by The Jackson Laboratory) on Kingsland Crossing road, near the intersection of Route 3 and Myrick Road.
“It’s coming together quite rapidly,” Tupper said, sitting in his basement office at City Hall. “It’s going to be an extremely busy weekend.”
The fire chief said that, so far, more than 500 firefighters from Fort Kent to southern Maine have pre-registered to attend the convention, but he anticipates many others will commit as the event draws near. He said he expects that many firefighter relatives and friends also will attend.
“The motels are full,” Tupper said, adding that many of the local campgrounds will be as well. “There will be a lot of people who show up Saturday morning. We just hope Mother Nature cooperates.”
All of the events, he said, are open to the public, including ticketed events scheduled for Friday and Saturday evenings.
Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood, two improv comedians from the television show “Whose Line Is It Anyway,” will perform Friday night, and on Saturday evening there will be an awards banquet followed by a live performance of the disco tribute band Motor Booty Affair, which will be accompanied by a 40-piece orchestra. Tickets to the comedy duo cost $40 while tickets to the banquet and music show each cost $30. Tickets for the banquet and for the Motor Booty Affair show must be bought separately.
“That’s a key component to get out there,” Tupper said about all convention events being open to the general public. “We want them to celebrate with us.”
There will be firefighter-themed events during the day on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 14 and 15, according to Tupper.
On Saturday, starting at 9 a.m., there will be a parade of fire trucks and antique apparatuses, along with parade fixtures such as floats, Shriner go-kart teams and school bands. The parade will start at the Moore School on State Street, wind through the City Hall parking lot and then head up Main Street before turning right onto High Street, where the route will extend all the way down to the traffic light between Harmon’s and Hannaford.
During the parade, there will be bus and rail shuttle service between the local high school on Route 1A and the parade route, Tupper said. Alternate driving routes with appropriate signage will be set up to help motorists get through Ellsworth while the parade is happening.
After the parade, antique fire trucks and apparatuses will be on display in the parking lot of the convention event center (the former Lowe’s building), while at 2 p.m. Saturday there will be a firefighter memorial service in the event center that is free and open to the public.
On Sunday, there will be a firefighters’ muster in the parking lot of the event center, featuring as many as 20 teams of six firefighters each competing in four events:
- A dry hose competition, in which each team will have to deploy and connect a hose to a dry fire hydrant.
- A wet hose competition in which they will deploy and connect a hose to a live hydrant and then knock down a target with water sprayed from the hose.
- A water polo event in which two teams will use hoses to try to spray a tether ball suspended from a cable toward each other.
- A mystery event that won’t be disclosed until it is about to begin.
“I think it will be fun,” Tupper said.