Weird, Wicked Weird: 2013 Weird in review

Fish were kissed. Cheese was chased. Ghosts in Room 318 didn't disappoint.

Newfoundland Day
Troy Bennett photos

Pictures from the third annual Newfoundland Day last June, a Screeching success.

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Herbert Wing's home, now the Herbert Grand Hotel, was not a business in his day, but a place to stay if he liked you and your politics.

Submitted photo

Dan Greeley, three-time U.S. National Cheese Rolling champ, at the 2011 championship in Belfast. He raced again this past July to try to defend his title.

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Former chefs at The Herbert Grand Hotel in Kingfield have reported seeing shadows move about in an empty dining room of the 1918 hotel.

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Dawn Sova, rooms division manager, stands in The Herbert Grand Hotel's Room 318, which is rumored to be haunted after a guest at the Kingfield business reported seeing a long-haired woman brush past him in the bathroom.

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

The Herbert Grand Hotel in Kingfield boasts numerous stories from guests and former employees about strange happenings in the rooms of the 1918 hotel. One guest reported seeing a little girl sitting on his bed, asking to leave the hotel. Another saw a long-haired woman brush past him in his room.

You will be missed, 2013, but first, quick year-ending updates on some of our favorite Weird, Wicked Weirds.

Mark your calendars to get in on some of next year's unusual goodness.

Things that bump, bark in the night

Since the story ran last spring, Dawn Sova says many guests at the Herbert Grand Hotel in Kingfield have fallen into two camps: those drawn to Room 318 and those who want to stay the heck away.

Sova's son, Rob Gregor, bought the old, massive inn in 2009 and Sova has been learning its history since. It was originally home to Herbert Wing, a wealthy businessman and lawmaker who could be a bit difficult. One story involved Wing having the power cut off in town when he went to bed at night.

One guest in Room 318 told Sova that he had felt a hand brush against his back and turned to see a woman with long hair running away. Another heard yipping noises and opened the door to see a ghost man walking a ghost dog down the hall.

In August, two men in town enjoying the ATV trails booked Room 312.

"First thing they ask, 'Is that near the room that's haunted?'" Sova said. "I said, 'It's down the hall, but if you want I'll switch you to the first floor.' The one didn't want to admit that he was that scared about it. The next morning, one came down: 'You had somebody in the room next to us that was pretty noisy. I could hear them through the walls. I thought you told me we were the only ones on the floor?'''

They were.

"There was nobody in 314," Sova said. "Voices and knocking on the walls? It could also be that the pipes are about 70 years old and banging. But this was in August."

Another recent couple, a husband and wife in their late 40s, were split. He wanted to stay in 318; she didn't.

The wife finally relented.

"The next morning she came downstairs, she said, 'You know, I knew we should not have stayed in there,'" Sova said. "She said, 'In the middle of the night, don't laugh, I felt a hand slide up and down my leg."

Her husband had been turned away from her. It wasn't him.

"I thought, wow, I just hope old Herbert isn't getting frisky in that room now," Sova said.

Monsters, mysteries, western Maine twins

The first month, 20 people showed up. The second month, 25. The third meeting of a new Maine alien abduction support group is set for Dec. 14.

Some have turned out to listen, some to share.

"The one that we had last month was very intense," Audrey Hewins said. "Some people really processed the things they had inside them for all their lives; it was really good to see."

Hewins, of Oxford, and her twin sister, Debbie, of Mechanic Falls, are behind Starborn Support, a national support group for what they call "experiencers" — people who've been visited by, had visions of or heard from extraterrestrials. The group has 12 chapters from the U.S. to Colombia.

The twins claim they've been abducted and visited many times throughout their lives, starting when they were very young.

In addition to their support groups, they're planning the third annual Experiencers Speak conference for Sept. 5, 6 and 7 next year, but first they'll both appear in an episode of "Monsters & Mysteries in America" on Dec. 22 on the Destination America channel. The episode focuses on the "Bridgewater Triangle," an area in Massachusetts with heightened paranormal activity, where the sisters used to live.

Hewins said they recently passed on another appearance.

"We were going to do another show with (Arizona abductee) Travis Walton, but they wanted us to lie and we said no," she said. "He's got the most well-known case ever and to ask him to bend the truth a little for their ratings is just absurd. We just backed off that completely and said, 'Sorry, see you later.'"

New and improved cheese-chasing

Adding age categories so that young and "old" contestants wouldn't have to compete head to head worked like a charm. Appointing referees in striped shirts bearing whistles kept things clean.

New, 3-pound wheels of cheese sent barrelling down the gentle green slope of the Belfast Common "showed up beautifully; there was no trouble," spokeswoman Claudia Luchetti said.

This year's tweaks kept the seventh annual U.S. National Cheese Rolling Championship hurtling right along.

The event, part of the Maine Celtic Celebration and modeled after the Gloucestershire cheese rolls in England, involves chasing a wheel of cheese downhill in front of cheering crowds. Chaos quickly ensues. He who grabs it first, wins. Usually.

The event's popularity has grown each year. Luchetti estimated about 2,000 people turning out for the festivities last July.

Dan Greeley of Belfast, three-time men's cheese-rolling champion, was back to defend his title in the mature men's division (that's age 25-plus in this sport.) His crowded division triggered a qualifying runoff: 20-plus men scrambling up the commons toward one of 10 chairs.

The uphill run? No problem. For the downhill portion, success — and cheese — proved elusive.

"I actually had my hands on it, there was a big scrum," Greeley said. "I hit my head pretty hard and when the dust settled, some other dude had the cheese."

Still, his love hasn't dimmed for what he calls a "funky hometown event."

Next year's U.S. National Cheese Rolling Championship is tentatively set for July 20 at 1 p.m. Chasers can be as young as 5, and it's free to enter.

For a complete list of rules, visit the Maine Celtic Celebration's website, where you'll find helpful advice, such as: "Remember, there's no crying in cheese rolling."

Right smack-dab on the kisser

The third annual Newfoundland Day celebration in June, held for the first time at the Poland Spring Resort, sold out with 60 people, organizer Daphne Izer said.

"We had Newfoundlanders from four states and one came from one province," she said.

The evening is a nod to all things Newfoundland, from toutons and figgy duff (fried dough and pastry) to a ceremony for honorary residency.

That ceremony, a Screeching In, involves wearing a fisherman's cap, eating bologna, taking a shot of Screech rum, kneeling on a Canadian rock, dancing a jig and kissing a fish.

Shirtlessness is optional. Exuberance is a must.

Five people were Screeched In this year.

"Some of them were invited. It was a surprise for some, and some asked," Izer said. "The fish held up really good."

Dave Rowe, one half of The Squid Jiggers, musical maestros behind Newfoundland Day, called the event, in short, "a hoot."

The day included lots of singing, dancing and food.

"We threw the windows open and the sun went down and it just turned into this idyllic moment," Rowe said. "The Screeching In is always entertaining. There's nothing like watching five people kiss a fish."

Plans are afoot for a fourth celebration next June.

Weird, Wicked Weird is a monthly feature on the strange, intriguing and unexplained in Maine. Send ideas, photos and ghost fish to

What do you think of this story?

Login to post comments

In order to make comments, you must create a subscription.

In order to comment on, you must hold a valid subscription allowing access to this website. You must use your real name and include the town in which you live in your profile. To subscribe or link your existing subscription click here.

Login or create an account here.

Our policy prohibits comments that are:

  • Defamatory, abusive, obscene, racist, or otherwise hateful
  • Excessively foul and/or vulgar
  • Inappropriately sexual
  • Baseless personal attacks or otherwise threatening
  • Contain illegal material, or material that infringes on the rights of others
  • Commercial postings attempting to sell a product/item
If you violate this policy, your comment will be removed and your account may be banned from posting comments.



Steve  Dosh's picture

Weird, Wicked Weird: 2013 Weird in review

Mainers , Black ƒlyday 17:00 hst ?
Weird Wired World ;)
hth , Dr. Dosh


Stay informed — Get the news delivered for free in your inbox.

I'm interested in ...