RUMFORD — Grab your cameras, bring the kids, Babe the Blue Ox is arriving at noon Thursday, Oct. 8, on upper Congress Street on the Rite-Aid Pharmacy lot.
Rumford's 6-foot-tall, 10-foot-long economic-development bovine from a Wisconsin factory will be traveling east on Route 2 atop a flatbed trailer from Bethel on Thursday morning, according to Jim Rinaldo, an Economic Development Committee member.
"He'll be a little bigger than the oxen at the Fryeburg Fair," Rinaldo said on Tuesday of Babe, the mythical sidekick of Paul Bunyan.
Babe's horn spread is 55 inches. He was created by a company in Belfast that specializes in constructing giant farm animals.
In August, selectmen voted 3-1 to take $6,500 from the town's economic development fund to buy Babe as a business attraction to help draw people into the downtown. It was Rinaldo's idea.
"We're trying to help the merchants on Congress Street," he said.
Rumford's Paul Bunyan replica is at the information center on Bridge Street, where 5,000 to 6,000 people visit annually, Rinaldo said.
Because many tourists have their pictures taken with Paul each year, most town officials and Rinaldo believe that by placing Babe at the upper end of Congress Street, people will follow directional signs between the two American tall-tale icons and visit shops they wouldn't normally see.
"People are definitely interested in the thing," Rinaldo said.
He said Rite-Aid store manager Jerry Clark has been getting calls daily from people, asking when Babe is coming to town.
Although it will only take about 15 to 20 minutes to offload Babe from the flatbed, Rinaldo said he was hoping to see fanfare or ceremony of some kind.
That's why he asked Town Manager Carlo Puiia to speak with police Chief Stacy Carter to give Babe a police escort from the information center to the blue bovine's new home, looking down Congress Street.