MARS HILL, Maine — A combined project between the towns of Mars Hill and Blaine will bring music lovers together next year to enjoy local performances under a new gazebo.
Located next to the Mars Hill Fire Station, the Mars Hill-Blaine Sargent & Tweedie Bandstand was built earlier this summer following a conversation between Eldon Lawrence and Steve Stiles.
“When I was a little boy, I used to live in Canada, and I used to come over here on the weekends,” said Lawrence. “Mars Hill was quite a community at that time with lots of stores, and there were so many people here that you had to park in the middle of the street because there weren’t enough parking spaces on the side.
“We had a parade in Mars Hill over a year ago and I saw all these people in town, but I knew that a half-hour after the parade was over, everybody was going to be gone and we’d be back to a one-horse town again,” he said. “I was thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if we could some way bring people in town and have them stay for a while?’ I saw that park area and thought that would be a good place for a bandstand. I started talking to Steve and one thing led to another.”
A committee was formed last fall to begin researching the possibility of having a town-owned bandstand.
“I got on the Internet and found an Amish company called Backyard and Beyond out of Pennsylvania and they make kits that you can purchase and put together,” said Lawrence. “We looked at all the options and expenses, and decided to go with the kit.
“The 20-foot by 24-foot bandstand has an 8-foot by 12-foot stage, ceiling and lights, but it was a lot more work than I thought it would be,” he said. “From the foundation to completion, it took a good two months before we got it done. It looks nice and it’s a place for people to get together for a little culture.”
Stiles said there will be minimal maintenance to the bandstand.
“All the wood is covered with white plastic, so there’s nothing to deteriorate. It’s a wash-down type structure with a little bleach if you get some mold. It will withstand the elements for many, many years,” he said. “It went together just like a puzzle … piece by piece by piece, and every piece had to be put in the right place.
“We’re quite proud of our bandstand. Having it situated next to the fire station on Market Street, we knew it would jump out at people as they were coming down the hill. It’s going to catch everybody’s attention,” said Stiles. “It’s taken Eldon and I at least 250 hours combined to put this project together. It’s taken all summer and my golf game has suffered quite immensely, but I’ll make it up next year. It’s going to be a really nice spot for the town.”
The $30,000 bandstand was paid for through donations by Bruce Sargent and Mike Tweedie with additional money donated by Arlo Gilpatrick, in memory of his parents, Dr. Ora Ellsworth Gilpatrick and Amy Mabel Carpenter Gilpatrick. Others also donated to the project.
Lawrence said this winter the committee will look to raise about $3,500 in donations for a new sound system.
Some landscaping will be done next spring. A dedication ceremony also will be held next spring.
Lawrence said a sign-up sheet will be placed at the town office for individuals or groups interested in performing at the bandstand.
Mars Hill Town Manager Karin Petrin said she’s looking forward to having concerts at the new venue.
“As town manager, I’m very excited about the prospects of having a cultural structure in our downtown community,” she said. “The bandstand will bring the Mars Hill and Blaine communities together and give everyone a place where they can enjoy the beautiful view of Mars Hill Mountain and share the warmth that the communities have through music and other similar cultural events.”