FORT KENT, Maine — Never let it be said the Fort Kent Lions don’t put it all out there for the good of the community.
Or, at least all that decency permits.
Once again the club has banded together, creating a 24-month full-color calendar in which the participating Lions strip down to their respective birthday suits and pose with various strategically placed props and scenery.
That’s right, 24 months of near-naked businessmen, officials, doctors, farmers and retirees, posing au naturale in their natural surroundings.
The project is a follow-up to a similar, 12-month calendar the group created in 2006.
“It’s all in good fun and for a great cause,” said Paul Berube, Lion and calendar project chairman.
“It was really not a tough sell to get the guys to pose,” said Lion Kris Malmborg. “Once the first [Lion] agreed and came on board, it really snowballed from there.”
Neither Berube nor Malmborg would provide details on exactly who is in the calendar or how they are posed, but were quick to say every photo is in good taste and far from pornographic.
The two men did say fishing, ATVs, airplanes, trucks, tractors, buildings and farm equipment were all fair game for setting the scenes.
“There is a vast age range of ‘models,’” Malmborg said. “We have guys in their early 20s up to early 80s.”
As the project got rolling, it sparked a bit of friendly competition, Malmborg said.
“We’d share the first couple of photos with the guys and they’d say, ‘We can do better than that,’” he said.
Among them is retired business owner Pat Labbe, who appeared in the club’s 2006 calander and was back again for the updated version.
“I was ice fishing as Mr. March for the first calendar,” he said. “You would not believe the calls I got from people wanting me to be their guide.”
Despite being a veteran of near-naked photo shoots, Labbe did say he was a bit leery when the time came to disrobe for his session with local portrait photographer Jerry Jalbert.
“It was a bit easier since I had done it once before,” Labbe said. “Plus, Paul [Berube] and Jerry [Jalbert] make it fun.”
Keeping the project — if not the Lions — underwraps meant sessions in the early morning or at remote locations.
“All the locations were in private areas or done at times no one was around,” Jalbert said. “Some of the guys had their own suggestions and some wanted their hobbies taken into consideration.”
There are a fair number of Lions in the 2014-2015 calendar who posed in 2006 and for at least one, it took a legal opinion to pave the way.
“Last time when a police chief posed there were some people upset that municipal property could be seen in the shot,” Berube said. “This time we got approval from the [Maine] Attorney General’s Office that it’s OK.”
Berube said the Lions made $42,000 with the 2006 calendar and said he expects to near-double that this time around given the publication covers two years and times well with the 2014 World Acadian Congress.
“Frankly, it’s not about selling calendars,” he said. “It’s about raising money for those three causes.”
LifeFlight, he said, is a crucial part of the northern Maine community and has transported countless residents in need of expanded medical care outside of the St. John Valley.
In fact, 15 years ago Berube himself was transported by a LifeFlight team after he was involved in a serious ATV accident in a remote part of Maine.
“I know what it means to get airlifted and what these people do for our community,” Berube said. “This is a cause near and dear to my heart.”
Likewise, he noted the number of people who have benefited from the financial, educational and emotional support of the Northern Maine Medical Center-based Edgar Paradis fund.
The Lions plan to print 2,500 calendars for the first run and will sell them for $20 each.
Berube expects them to be available by Nov. 29.
In addition to 24 glossy photos showing more of 24 Lions than one normally sees, the calendar contains information about the area and schedule information on the World Acadian Congress and related family reunions.
Once available, the calendars will be sold throughout the St. John Valley and on the club’s Facebook page by clicking the “store” link at www.facebook.com/pages/Fort-Kent-Maine-Lions-Club/179846162066976
By “liking” the page, Malmborg said, people can find out exactly when the calendars are available and about other upcoming Lion events, including a special run of the club’s Pride of the Lions Show during the World Acadian Congress.
Calendars may also be ordered by sending $24.95 to Fort Kent Lions, P.O. Box 28, Fort Kent, ME, 04743.