PHILLIPS — The town kicked off its year-long bicentennial celebration Saturday with a high-spirited birthday party.
On Saturday evening, the Phillips Area Community Center on Depot Street filled with enthusiastic townspeople who came to enjoy each other’s company and a traditional bean dinner.
“We have 200 decorated cupcakes for dessert, but you’ll have to wait ’til the end of the evening to enjoy them,” volunteer organizer Pam Matthews said.
While the audience enjoyed the home-cooked meal, local storytellers shared memories of Phillips’ earlier times. Winona Davenport recalled a fire that destroyed part of the town. Laura Toothaker remembered Phillips High School Principal Paul Whittemore and twin brothers Monty and Macky Toothaker, who broke state cross-country running records. Randy Ellicott told a hunting story, which included poachers and a deer disguised with a hat, jacket and hunting rifle.
According to local history, the earliest settlers came to the upper Sandy River in the 1790s. The valley of the Sandy River was first called Shadagee, a version of the Indian name Chatauke, which meant “Great Place.”
Phillips was incorporated as a town on Feb. 25, 1812. (Maine was a province of Massachusetts until March 1820.)
Cornelia Thurza “Fly Rod” Crosby, Maine’s first registered guide, called Phillips home.
“We will have special events throughout the year, including a beard-growing contest and a spelling bee,” Matthews told the audience. “One of our fundraising goals is to raise enough money for Old Home Days fireworks in August.”