CALAIS _ Honoring the veterans of America is the aim of the Rally in the St. Croix Valley Committee and the Calais Police Association when they host the first ever Rally in the St. Croix Valley International Border Bikerfest beginning July 1.
The Rally lasts through July 8.
There will be hundreds of events for bikers and non-bikers alike throughout the week. The bikerfest is not just limited to people on motorcycles, but is open to anyone who wants to enjoy Downeast, Maine and Charlotte County, New Brunswick.
Daily rides have been planned to help celebrate Canada Day on July 1, and Independence Day on July 4.
But the signature event that week will be the indoor Vietnam Veteran Traveling Wall, titled “The Cost of Freedom,” that will arrive in Calais on July 3.
“We are so aware of the efforts of our service people and we were looking for a major attraction for the bikefest,” said Marcia Hayward, Rally in the St. Croix Valley Committee spokeswoman. “. We already had decided that the week would be dedicated to veterans and we just felt that the wall would fit in with our plans.”
City police, fire officials, veterans and others will meet the wall at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, July 3, at the Bluebird Ranch Warehouse in Baring and escort it into the city.
“Everyone is welcome to escort the wall to Calais,” Hayward added.
The wall will be set up in the former Calais Middle School on the corner of North and Washington streets and will be open 24-hours a day. There will be programs and events surrounding the wall every day of the bikefest.
“It is a half-scale replica of the larger Vietnam Veteran Wall,” she said. “It has exhibits from the Korean War, 911 and Fort Hood which is a tribute to our lost military. There also is a tribute to emergency responders. So it is not only a military exhibit, but a tribute to those who are put in harm’s way.”
The wall measures 2,500 feet and is the first ever such display in the Calais area. “We would have liked to have secured the outdoor unit, but were unable to,” she said.
Bringing the wall to Calais was made possible through donations from area residents and a grant from the Maine Community Foundation.
Although the Vietnam Wall will be front and center for the bikefest, there also are a slew of other events for visitors to the city to enjoy.
The event begins on July 1, with the opening ceremony on the Ferry Point International Bridge that connects Calais with St. Stephen, New Brunswick. The event will include the blessing of the bikes. It also marks the start of some fun activities on both sides of the international border including the “Lace Loves Leather” ladies only ride. That ride is open to all women whether they are on motorbikes or in some other form of moving transportation. Proceeds from the ride will go to The Next Step, a local domestic violence advocate and service agency.
Other high points that week include the Maine National Guard Army rock band that will perform at the Triangle Park on Main Street at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 5.
The law enforcement ride has been scheduled for Friday night. “It is being organized by Maine State Trooper Jason Fowler who is trying to include all law enforcement people from around the county, “she said. “Although it is being organized for law enforcement, everyone is welcome to participate. Riders will go from Calais to Grand Lake Stream and when they return there will be a bike show at the Schooner Pub.”
On Saturday, the daylong event begins at 8 a.m. with breakfast at the Washington County Community College, dubbed the “Ridin’ for America’s Heroes.” “That ride is to benefit the Veteran’s Scholarship Fund at WCCC,” she said.
After breakfast, bikers will travel south visiting cemeteries along the way. “That ride will end at the new Veteran’s Museum in Columbia Falls,” she said. “The riders will return to WCCC for a cookout late afternoon.”
To help jazz up the city, Hayward said, the committee would like to place flags from the Rotary on Route 1 to Main Street. Anyone who would like to support the effort can purchase a flag and pole in honor of a family member or friend who served in the military. The cost will be $35. “So anyone who would like to donate can send us a quick note of who it is in memory of and a check and we will put up the flag for them. The check should be made payable to the Rally in the St. Croix Valley, and mailed to 17 Pleasant St., Calais, ME 04619” she said.
The committee has invited motorcycle clubs from across New England and Atlantic Canada. The event is posted in the state’s “Ride Maine Magazine.” It is also in the Harley-Davidson publication “The Hog.” Hayward said she expects more than 4,000 bikers to attend.