Phillips to celebrate 200th birthday on Feb. 25

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PHILLIPS — Phillips celebrates its bicentennial this year and on Saturday, Feb. 25, the town will kick off the year-long event with a birthday party at the Phillips Area Community Center (Old Gym) on Depot Street.

Two hundred cupcakes, a free bean supper, Chinese fire balloons, old-time story telling and live music will come together on Feb. 25 as Phillips marks its 200th birthday with a gala party for friends and residents of the town.

The area’s earliest settlers began arriving along the upper Sandy River in the 1790s, and with all the advantages the river and its valley conferred, the town quickly grew. Farmsteads sprang up, mills were built and gradually a village took shape on the Sandy’s banks.

By 1812, the village had expanded to more than 50 families and that year its citizens decided to incorporate. Before February was over, the incorporation was approved by the Massachusetts Legislature (Maine didn’t become a separate state until March 4, 1820) and was signed into effect by a signatory to the Declaration of Independence, Gov. Elbridge Gerry, on Feb. 25, 1812. On that date Phillips became Maine’s 193rd town.

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Known, among other things, as the birthplace of Fly Rod Crosby, Maine’s first registered guide, the headquarters and hub of the Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes Railroad, and once home to The Phillips Phonograph, Franklin County’s first newspaper, the town thrived and now happily anticipates a year of anniversary celebrations.

This kick-off celebration, which begins at 5 p.m. with a bean supper, will feature a display of 200 uniquely decorated cupcakes illustrating the history of Phillips, which later will become dessert. Music will be provided by the Narrow Gauge String Band, some of the town’s elders will share stories of earlier times and a continuous slide show of local photos will be shown. A 50-50 raffle will support the Old Home Days fireworks fund and a door prize of local products will be awarded. The evening will end with fire lanterns being released into the night sky.

A bad weather date of Sunday, Feb. 26 has been set.

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