TURNER — Melodies and lyrics often rouse reminisces of days gone by. It’s been said that it’s sometimes not the song that makes you emotional, it’s the people and things that come to mind when you hear it.
So it was with Mavis Varney. She sang harmony, played alto saxophone in the school band, told jokes and always loved to have a good time with friends and community. Mavis and her husband, Paul, actively participated in many community projects: Helping save the Leavitt Institute Building, supporting the creation of the Androscoggin River Park, supporting church activities and supporting Paul’s baseball team and the building of baseball fields.
Mavis loved music and often attended the concerts at the gazebo in Livermore Falls. She wanted Turner to have its own musical center, as in the old days. While driving by the village green in Turner Center, Mavis realized this would be a perfect place to build a gazebo, right in front of the Leavitt Institute Building. Mavis envisioned the gazebo as the perfect community place to enjoy music, plays, dancing and neighbors gathering to enjoy a good time.
In August 2008, Mavis passed away. Donations given in her memory from close friends and the Turner Snowmobile Club inspired the creation of the “Music For Mavis” Gazebo Building Committee. The dream was launched. It took a year to percolate, and in fall 2009 serious action began to unfold. The committee, led by Mavis’ daughter Paula Anderson, consisted of a diverse group of talented community members, many with professional backgrounds. The participation of these committee members, along with the generous contributions of friends, made the dream a reality and is recognized with a plaque located in the Turner Town Office.
Turner resident Dave Rogers, with a background in design, provided a concept that would allow the gazebo to be built at ground level for handicapped accessibility and senior citizen mobility. With Planning Board approval, school board approval and completion of permits, construction was ready to begin. Local contractors came forward, volunteering their labor and donating some of the materials to defray the overall construction costs. Kurt Youland became the project manager, overseeing construction and site completions. His leadership, coupled with his time, goodwill, equipment, employees and coordination with volunteers, allowed for the completion of the project in time for the July 4, 2010, celebration.
With the advent of the gazebo’s ninth season it is important to reflect on how Mavis’ dream has come to life. The gazebo, surrounded by Turner’s historic buildings, has become a centerpiece for community events. Weekly concerts throughout the summer, school events, the Fourth of July festival concert, and the lighting of the tree during the Christmas season are some of the events enjoyed by community members and guests. This spirit of enthusiasm and participation truly embodies the vision Mavis had for the community gazebo.
The schedule of weekly summer concerts is published in local newspapers, posted on the bulletin board located on the village green next to Route 117 and is listed on the Turner Public Library and town of Turner websites. Providing musical entertainment does require a budget. One of the ways to help cover these expenses is to “pass the hat” for donations midway through each concert. While a minimum gratuity is suggested, many people have been very generous. These donations, plus generous donations from local businesses and individuals, enable the program to continue to provide music for the community to enjoy.
While summer concerts are the major focus of the gazebo’s board of directors, they also recognize the need for its continued maintenance. Currently, the board is looking to upgrade the lighting within the gazebo, cleaning and painting it, and addressing other minor repairs. These maintenance costs are an additional expense and go beyond what summertime receipts allow.
As people look forward to this summer’s concert series, the board asks that they please consider supporting the “Music for Mavis” program and gazebo maintenance. Any help, be it monetary donations, labor or materials, would be appreciated and welcomed.
‘Music for Mavis’ concert schedule
Shows are at 6:30 p.m., rain or shine. In the event of rain, the shows moves to a space under the library.
The gazebo is located at Route 117, 98 Mathew’s Way.
22 – Tom Stevens, folk
29 – The Lee Stetson Duo, rock, country, blues
5 – Scruli and Lisa – klezmer
12 – Stan Davis, folk
19 – Kevin Libby, Country; folk/rock|
26 – Black Cat Road Band, rock and roll
3 – Hank Washborn , folk; rock and roll
4 – Marty Lang, swing, rock; Jjazz
10 – Old Coats, rock and roll
17 – Back Woods Road Band
24 – John Hoose of Country Choir, country rock
31– Brad Hooper, country rock
7 – Milltown Road Show, country, bluegrass, rock
14– Denny Breau and Ann, Deb, Frank
21 –The Grownups –F. Coffin, L. Liberty, T. Hamilton, rock and roll
28 – Tim Bishop, Chrissy Paulson et. al., rock and roll
4 – Cobblestones, rock and roll/folk
11- Hot Dam, rock and roll; swing
The hat is passed to pay the musicians. Suggested donation is $5.
Music for Mavis does not receive town funds. For info. Call: 754-0954.
The “Music for Mavis” gazebo
Denny Breau, guitarist, singer-songwriter