HERMON, Maine — The floor-length hooped petticoat was a bit much for Kay Martin, who was one of two dozen people at the Hermon Baptist Church dressed in clothing typically worn when the town was founded nearly 200 years ago.
“How did you ride a horse,” she asked, dressed in the long red victorian-style dress, with shawl and matching red hat, that stuck out several feet at the bottom because of the hooped undergarment.
Her husband, Mike Martin, who was dressed in a historic tuxedo-type suit and black hat, stood beside her and greeted community members and churchgoers who attended the Sunday morning church service commemorating the town’s 200th anniversary and kicking off the bicentennial celebration.
The Rev. Garnett Chute, dressed in historic preacher attire, said town leaders asked that the bicentennial start and end at the church that has called Hermon home since 1869. A special church service and cookout also is planned for the end of August, he said.
“We thought it was very important to have our opening ceremony and closing ceremony at the church,” said Scott Perkins, the town’s public works and recreation director and chairman of the town’s bicentennial committee.
Perkins introduced Marvin Overlock, who provided a history of the town’s beginnings.
“It all started when they started moving up the Penobscot River,” Overlock said. “Bangor was still a wilderness and Hampden was just beginning to grow.”
At that time two centuries ago, Hampden was known as Hillsboro, Carmel was Plantation No. 1 and Hermon was Plantation No. 2, the local historian said.
A travelling preacher, the Rev. Paul Ruggles, spread the word of God all around the area and is credited with naming the town after Mount Hermon in Palestine.
“He named Carmel after Mount Carmel and he named Hermon after Mount Hermon,” Overlock said.
Chute used the symbolism of the “Bible land” mountain, a 9,300-foot pinnacle topped by three peaks known as the Hermonites, in his sermon about being a better citizen and parent during the coming new year.
“Hermon [Mountain] is mentioned about 13 or 14 times in the verses,” the preacher said, selecting several to read aloud.
Next up for the town’s bicentennial celebration will be a New Year’s Eve dance at Morgan Hill Event Center on Route 2, which starts at 8 p.m. Tuesday and runs through 1 a.m. on New Year’s Day. Tickets for the dance, which will feature music by Rockin’ Ron and the New Society Band, can be purchased individually, per couple or by tables of eight, according to an announcement on the town’s website.
Also on tap in 2014 are a car show, a horse show and an expanded edition of the Summer Sizzler, the town’s signature summertime event.
Kay and Mike Martin and the others who came in costume were dressed by Vintage Finery in Orrington. The couple, who have lived in town for 22 years, said they had a good time getting dressed in the yesteryear clothing.
“It’s fun,” Kay Martin said, slightly twirling her hoop dress. “It’s all about layers. You have to start with a petticoat and just add on.”
For more information about the bicentennial or to get involved, call the town’s recreation department at 848-4075.
BDN reporter Dawn Gagnon contributed to this story.