McLaughlin drops admission fees, including for Lilac Festival


PARIS – McLaughlin Garden in South Paris has dropped all general admission fees for 2011 to support its community, including for admission to the well-known Lilac Festival.

The Lilac Festival will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 27-30. McLaughlin has one of the largest collections of lilacs in the county and they are in full bloom for the festival. The four-day celebration includes talks, walks, demonstrations, baked goods and special lilac items in The Potting Shed gift shop.

McLaughlin Garden is a private, nonprofit organization in rural western Maine. It stewards the homestead of Bernard McLaughlin, Maine’s Dean of Gardening, which includes an 1840s house and barn as well as four lushly-planted acres of gardens. The site is listed on the National Historic Register. McLaughlin hosts many festivals throughout the year, all of which will be free of charge in 2011.

“The board and staff believe there is a segment of the community that is unable to enjoy McLaughlin Garden activities if such activities require a fee,” said Bruce Rood, chairman of the board of directors.

McLaughlin’s vision is to become a keystone community member for the Oxford Hills by reaching out into the community to support the economic vitality and cultural development of the area. While the organization is dedicated to this vision, it requires achieving financial viability solely through fundraising, some special fee-based events and retail sales.

“We are counting on the portion of our community that can afford to financially support us more than ever now” said Al Daniels, treasurer of the board of directors. “We believe that they will appreciate what we are trying to do and want to be part of giving this gift of access to those who otherwise couldn’t experience the peace and beauty of our garden.”

This year, the barrier being removed is economic. In 2012 the group will begin working on a program that will facilitate the visually impaired experiencing the diversity of the gardens through the senses of touch, hearing, smell and taste. Also in 2012, a written, self-guided tour will be available for those with auditory challenges as well as the general public.