GARLAND, Maine — Garland Grange members have been preparing public suppers at their hall once monthly from April to December for several years now. Unfortunately, this long, cold winter has had some detrimental effects on the 119-year-old facility.
Built in 1895, the Garland Grange Hall is not heated when not in use during the winter and relies on a water supply from the next door Garland Baptist Church. As the pipe runs under the driveway/parking lot between the two buildings, sometimes during the coldest months of January and February the ground freezes, effectively cutting off the Grange’s water supply until warmer weather arrives. This year, the water is still frozen at the end of March with no end in sight for the cold temperatures.
“We don’t plan many activities at the hall during January and February due to heating cost and the unknown water status during the winter,” says Ernest Rollins, longtime Garland Grange member, in a press release.
Garland Grange opened its doors in early March for Garland’s annual Town Meeting as is tradition. A couple days prior to this event, it was discovered that the water was still frozen. The town meeting still went on at the hall.
“We lugged water and set up a barrel to refill the restroom facilities. People were willing to use the outhouse also,” says Rollins. “But there wasn’t as many people in attendance as attends a Garland Grange public supper.”
Adds Garland Grange Master and Chef Bill Bemis, “We just don’t see any end in sight for these cold temperatures and we can’t plan a supper not knowing if we will have running water for cooking, dishes, and restroom facilities.”
Due to these factors, Garland Grange is postponing the start of its 2014 public supper season to Friday, May 9. Originally, it had been announced that the first supper was to be served on Friday, April 11. Garland Grange wants to thank the community for its support and regrets any disappointment caused to anyone for this delay.
Garland Grange serves an average of 90 people at each of its monthly meals. This is also one of their major fundraisers allowing them to do upgrades and improvements to their building over the years such as modern toilet facilities.
Last year, the funds from suppers allowed the entrance to be patched and painted and the third story window replaced. More upgrades, such as a more efficient heating system to allow year-round access to the facility, is planned with this year’s supper proceeds.
The community’s generous support at these meals allows Garland Grange to make contributions such as purchasing dictionaries to distribute to local third-graders of AOS 94 as part of the Dictionary Project. Gifts to local organizations such as Piscataquis Santa Project are provided using these funds that are raised through suppers.
The first Garland Grange supper will be held 5-7 p.m. Friday, May 9, at the Grange Hall on Oliver Hill Road in Garland. May traditionally has been the first Baked Bean supper for Garland Grange, but other dishes such as macaroni and cheese and baked ham are served in addition for variety. Supper price is $7 for adults, $3 for children ages 5 to 12, free for children under age 5. Takeout is available.
While the meal may be traditional, stay tuned for some possible additions in entertainment. “We are always up to trying something new,” says Andrea Rollins, program director, in the press release. “We have some conversations in the works for possible musical entertainment following the suppers. We want to appeal to as many people as we can by offering a variety of activities.”
Garland Grange will meet at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 4, to discuss the upcoming supper schedule and other plans for the coming year. Garland Grange welcomes anyone who would like more information about the Grange to attend, and the organization is always looking for people who are interested in bettering their community by helping with Grange projects such as these public suppers.
For more information about Garland Grange or the upcoming suppers, contact Master Bill Bemis at 924-3537.