Logging festival celebrates heritage

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RANGELEY – The 27th annual Logging Festival, sponsored by the Rangeley Lakes Region Logging Museum, will take place on Friday and Saturday, July 27 and 28, at the museum, Route 16. Activities will include music and dance at the Rangeley Inn, a parade on Main Street, a woodsmen’s competition, three new museum exhibits and a bean-hole bean dinner.

Visitors can watch George Slinn of Rangeley and Warwick, R.I., a veteran of Boy Scout bean-hole bean dinners, and Homer Everhard of Rangeley and East Walpole, Mass., begin the 22-hour process of preparing the ground and baking the beans, a logging camp staple, on Friday. Slinn and Everhard, along with their families and friends, will serve the beans on Saturday.

The museum main building will also open at 11 a.m. Friday so visitors can see two new exhibits. “Knit by Heart: The Art of Lucille Richard” honors museum co-founder and former secretary, Mrs. Rodney Richard. A slide show of photographs of Lucille’s life and art work, as well as samples of her knitting, will be on display. Leslie and Paul Ferguson-Packard helped with the exhibit.

Maine Mountain Heritage, produced by Mountain Counties Heritage of Farmington, will be at the museum through Sunday, July 29. It exhibits 18 stories and associated images told by local organizations from across the Maine Mountain Heritage area of Franklin, Oxford, Piscataquis and Somerset counties.

Story subjects include natural history (moose and riverways), community origins (early immigration and community life) and local economies (logging, slate mining, paper making, and nature-based tourism).

A state-of-the-art interactive touch kiosk will enable visitors to listen to the stories of western Maine. The exhibit is a project of the Maine Mountain Heritage Network, designed by Insyt New Media, with funding provided by the Federal Highway Administration and the Maine Department of Transportation.

A third new exhibit will roll into town Friday evening and be ready for viewing Saturday. “Ways of the Woods,” a traveling exhibit by the Northern Forest Center of Bethel, is housed in a 53-foot truck trailer that holds floor-to-ceiling photographs, interactive elements, recordings of traditional music and stories.

Flat-screen video stations play profiles of people who live, work and play in the Northern Forest, and exhibit cases display items handmade in the region that stretches from New York state to Maine. A canopy extends from the truck’s exterior so that additional displays can be seen by visitors.

Also on display throughout the festival will be the “Working the Woods” exhibit that features laborers in the Maine forest, including Rangeley’s M&H Logging, Rodney Richard, Jeep Wilcox and Walter (Skeet) Davenport.

Additional exhibits include Ben Morton’s photographs of logging operations in Rangeley; the Leon Haley-Ruth Case and the Jim Carter photograph collections of early 20th century logging in the region; photographs of early mechanized logging equipment recently donated by Wayne White and family of Carthage; and textile arts of the exhibit Hand-in-Hand: Knitting and Logging.

Also on exhibit are the many letters that Lincoln Toothaker, son of John R. Toothaker, wrote to his new wife, Idella Keith Toothaker, from 1890 to 1892 when he was working near Magalloway in the Toothaker and Herrick Black Cat logging camps as a camp clerk and a driver of one of the five teams of working Percheron horses.

Included also are Idella’s letters to Lincoln about life in Rangeley and about the child she was expecting.

Among many details, Lincoln writes of his accident, which resulted in the loss of one of his legs.

“I never realized how difficult a life it was until I read these letters,” said Becky Martineau, who donated copies of the letters to the museum. The museum also displays the 19 paintings of Alden Grant, grandson of Kennebago’s Ed Grant, that depict logging in the Rangeley area in the late 1920s.

Model drag drays and wagon sleds by logger Carl Trafton join the chainsaw carvings of Rodney and Rodney Richard Jr., as well as the hand-carved white cedar fan towers of Rodney’s father, William, that are all on display as part of the museum’s efforts to document traditional art related to work in the western Maine timberwoods.

Historical logging equipment can be seen throughout the museum. Kaelin, Richard and Earl Morin donated the scale rules that their father, Ernest, used while he worked on many local woods jobs, including his work for Hudson Pulp and Paper on the Dead River drives.

Their donations help the museum with its efforts to document the last river drives in the area.

About 5 p.m. Friday, museum visitors can taste the biscuits that Stephen Richard mixes and bakes on the camp-style reflector ovens placed around open fires, as in early logging camp days.

Although the Friday program begins at 7 p.m. in the undercroft of the Church of the Good Shepherd on Main Street, early birds will be entertained by the Rangeley Ramblers with their special brand of country-western music.

The Little Miss and Little Mister Wood Chip talent contest will follows. Chosen from 6- to 8-year-old contestants who sing or recite, the winners will ride down Main Street in Saturday’s parade. The museum will induct a logger into the Loggers’ Hall of Fame, someone who has labored in the woods for most of their working lives and who has made contributions to the profession.

The evening’s music will feature the Fiddlehead Revue, young musicians from Rangeley. Entrance fees are $3 adults, $1 older children, and free for children 5 and under; door prizes will be given throughout the evening.

The parade will start at 10 a.m. Saturday on Main Street, with Farmington’s Old Crow Band; floats by the Giving Tree and the United Kingfield Bank and displays of new equipment and logging trucks.

Because of the sesquicentennial celebration, many more organizations are planning creative floats. The Rangeley Lakes Region Historical Society promises an entry that celebrates well-known individuals from Rangeley’s bygone years. The 2006 Little Miss and Mister Wood Chip Natasha Haley and Carl Trafton, both of Rangeley Plantation, will ride on the Giving Tree float.

Judges will award seven logging museum prizes in six categories: most appropriate to the logging industry, $100; best logging truck, $100; most entertaining, $75; most original. $50; most humorous, $25; and two best youth floats, $25 each.

Events will move to the museum site on Route 16 where there will be more music, children’s games and displays of logging equipment and trucks.

There will be an entrance fee of $3 for adults, $1 for children 6 to 18, free for 5 and under. Raffle tickets will be sold: first prize, a weekend at Rangeley Lakes Resort; second, a wood carving by Rodney Richard Sr.; and third, a cash prize of $100. Tickets will be drawn at the close of the woodsmen’s competition.

At 11:30 a.m. the bean-hole bean dinner will begin ($8 for adults, $3.50 for children 11 and under), and shortly thereafter, contestants will line up for the woodsmen’s competition under the eyes of Rodney Richard Jr. and Lenita Richard. Rodney Richard Sr. will carve a chain-saw bear and auction it off to the highest bidder.

For part of the afternoon as people eat their dinner, the Rangeley Ramblers will play and sing.

Throughout the day, artists will sell crafts such as wooden trucks, small wooden household items, pottery, doll clothes, homecooking, Christmas crafts and knitting.

For more information, call 864-5595.

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