SANGERVILLE, Maine — The weather wasn’t the greatest, but it wasn’t bad enough to dampen the enthusiasm of hundreds of people who gathered to celebrate Sangerville’s Bicentennial last weekend.
More than 50 parade units, from Shriners to kids’ bikes adorned with decorations, marched or rode the Main Street route under cloudy but dry skies.
Among the dignitaries enjoying the festivities were U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, Maine Gov. Paul LePage, State Rep. Paul Davis, Piscataquis County Sheriff John Goggin; Dover-Foxcroft Police Chief Dennis Dyer – who’s running against Goggin this fall – and Maine House candidates Norman Higgins and Paul Stearns.
The ancestors of one of two knights that called Sangerville their home were also on hand, carrying on a 100-year-old tradition.
Merritt Maxim, the great-great-grandson of Hiram Maxim, found out about the celebration almost by accident.
His son, Dimitri — a sophomore at Gould Academy — won first prize at the Maine State Science Fair earlier this year in Bangor, said Maxim. “Part of the article on the science fair in the Bangor Daily News mentioned his connection to Hiram Maxim. So an astute reader from Sangerville saw the article, made the connection and someone got in touch with us,” he said.
Maxim, who lives in Bethel part of the year, said that his great-grandfather came to the centennial in 1914 “and my great-aunt came to the 150th anniversary in 1964. So I’m happy to carry on the tradition.”
Hiram Maxim, best known for his invention of the machine gun, became a naturalized British subject in 1900 and was knighted the following year by Queen Victoria.
Harry Oakes was a wealthy entrepreneur who made sizeable charitable donations to his adopted home of Nassau and to St. George’s Hospital in London. In 1939, he was knighted by King George VI.
LePage had just returned from an overseas trip, but said he was glad to make time on his schedule for the observance. “This is the heart and soul of our state — the hard-working people in rural communities like Sangerville,” he said.
LePage took a few digs at the Democratic-controlled Legislature, noting that after the income tax was cut by one-half percent in 2013 “revenue was up by $490 million and the income tax reduction was $400 million. So we actually gained $90 million…The more money you have in your pocket, the more successful the state will be.”
He praised Collins and added that she needs help from people like GOP Congressional Candidate Bruce Poliquin. “He’s like the Energizer bunny,” LePage said. “We’ve got to get him to Washington so he can break some of the gridlock down there.”
The governor joked that the bicentennial organizers “almost got it right — they got the parade finished before the rain started.”
Collins said that Sangerville “is a town that really knows how to throw a party,” generating a round of applause for the organizing committee co-chaired by Pam Smith and Kathy Starbird.
The Republican senator recapped some of the town’s history, noting that the work ethic of Maxim and Oakes “were the qualities that built your town and sustain it today.” She also paid tribute to Phineas Ames, Sangerville’s first settler “who began clearing land in the wilderness in 1801” and Col. Calvin Sanger, who the town was eventually named after. “From the Revolutionary War to the conflicts of today, the patriots of your town have always answered freedom’s call,” she added.
Collins also presented Town Manager David Pearson with an American flag that flew over the nation’s capitol.