ORONO — Heather Stewart, a 1987 University of Maine graduate, sported her blue-and-white team jacket during weekend homecoming events as she dashed around the Alumni Association Homecoming Craft Fair and Maine Marketplace on Saturday showing her Black Bear spirit.
Stewart, a teacher for the Lake Region School District in southern Maine, has returned for UMaine’s homecoming almost every year since she graduated.
“I play with the alumni band, and I’ve played every year since graduation,” she said. “I’ve only missed one year.”
While in college, Stewart played clarinet for the Black Bears.
“I played with the marching band for four years,” she said, recalling times when she and her band mates had to deal with both hot and cold weather, “slipping in the mud out on the field and all those things.”
The memories bring her back year after year; that and the craft fair.
“That’s the highlight — coming to the craft fair,” Stewart said. “I look forward to this every year.”
The craft fair has been a homecoming tradition for 35 years, and this year, more than 200 vendors filled the Field House. The fair came to a close at 4 p.m. Sunday.
Falmouth resident Greg Nordstrom, who went to UMaine in the late ’70s and returned in the early ’90s, comes to Orono each year for homecoming. This year he wore a baseball hat bearing a black bear.
“I always enjoy coming up,” he said. “It’s a special place for me.”
Bob and Margaret Ackley, who moved to Kissimmee, Fla., seven years ago, both graduated from UMaine in the mid-1960s and spent more than 25 years teaching students in the Old Town area.
The couple met up with a handful of former students and ran into former neighbors during their first trip back since moving, coordinating it to coincide with homecoming.
“We definitely wanted to see a football game,” said Bob Ackley, who wore a UMaine jacket and baseball cap.
“I love this craft fair,” added Margaret Ackley, who donned a Black Bear sweatshirt. “I have [purchased] two Maine items. These are chocolate-covered blueberries to make Maine-themed Christmas baskets. Down there it’s very unique.”
“Down there, it’s cool,” her husband said.
Old Town residents Larry and Sue Godsoe, who wore Black Bear sweatshirts, and Dale and Kelly Cross, also in UMaine attire, have attended the annual craft fair for years. Larry and Dale are university graduates.
Pim Fraungruber was wearing a blue long-sleeved UMaine T-shirt on Saturday while she shopped at the craft fair after the football game. She is not an alum, but soon will be. Fraungruber is from southern Florida and is a graduate student studying marine science.
Homecoming is a great way to run into people from your college days, Stewart said. “It’s been fun to come and see all the alumni — all the friends,” she said.