BANGOR — A 20-minute concept film based on “Lost on a Mountain in Maine” premiered in July at the Maine International Film Festival, but the movie’s subject is still a major draw in his own right at age 88.
Donn Fendler, once the 12-year-old youngster that Maine took to its heart during the nine days he was lost on Mount Katahdin in 1939, will again sign autographs and share memories of his famous trek with a few hundred fans who turn out for his annual program at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, at Cole Land Transportation Museum at 405 Perry Road.
Retired after a career in the U.S. Army and a longtime resident of Tennessee, Donn Fendler’s story is a legend kept alive for decades by Maine schoolteachers who have used the slim volume he co-authored with Joseph Egan but never made a penny from.
But Fendler is more than a legend. He’s the real deal, a summer resident of Maine who has enriched countless classes of Maine schoolchildren each summer and fall with a visit during which he tells how his Boy Scout skills and refusal to give up helped him keep his courage while looking for a way out of the wilderness.
Fendler describes his talks as “a way to give back” to the state where so many people joined in the search and prayed for his safe return.
Participants in the annual event at the museum bring their own copies of Fendler’s book for an autograph or purchase a paperback copy at the museum. This year, there also will be a limited number of the new book Fendler has co-authored with Lynn Plourde, illustrated by Ben Bishop — a 72-page graphic novel called “Lost Trail: Nine Days Alone in the Wilderness.” The book, published by Down East Books, costs $14.95.
Fendler’s yearly appearance at the Cole museum continues to be tremendously popular, according to Galen Cole, who founded the museum and joined Fendler on an airplane flight over the Katahdin area a few years ago with then-Conservation Commissioner Pat McGowan as pilot.
Fendler’s talk is free.
Cole Land Transportation Museum is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. May 1-Nov. 11. Tickets are $7 for adults, free to those age 18 and under. For information, call 990-3600 or visit www.colemuseum.org.