VALLEY VOICES: Mexico Recreation

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Reading newspapers is sometimes great fun — and useful.

On the fun side, it’s sometimes the headlines. For example: “Hincks says shrink stinks” is what the old Boston Herald had for a story on John Hinckley Jr., who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan.

On the useful side was an article in the Sun Journal on the construction of new restrooms at the Mexico Recreation Park. If you’ve ever visited the old ones you will understand that this was very good news indeed. I resolved to visit the park for the first time in years and to talk with Greg Arsenault, director of the Mexico Recreation Center and the park.

Mexico has quite a few hidden delights, and the park is one of them. You need to know in advance where the entrance is off Route 17. It’s a left if you’re headed for Roxbury. The drive curves down through trees then opens out to some 32 acres, Arsenault told me. Hosmer’s playing fields and courts, the assessors’ office in Rumford says, is about 17 acres.

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When I visited one morning when the rain had stopped and the wind eased a little, there wasn’t a soul in sight. The stage sports a new metal roof and fresh paint. It will be wired in time for summer events, which include a concert. There’s also the lawnmower race June 19 for which a new racing track will be laid out. The lawnmower race is a fundraising event by and for the recreation park and the Mexico firefighters. There’s also an outhouse race on July 10.

Travis Pastrana, an X Games gold medalist and motorsports competitor, will attend the New England Forest Rally activities July 16 at the park. The rally draws thousands of participants and spectators from around the world, Greg told me. True, the visitors bed down in Bethel — we need more motels and hotels here — but participants motor down to the Mexico Recreation Park on Friday. You can visit them and their machines. Next day, they take to the woods in what is called extreme auto racing: Fast cars on dirt roads.

Souvenirs and food will be on sale that Friday. Surely, surely there are ways to woo some of those thousands of visitors to learn more of the River Valley and its assets. Economic development folk, take note!

Linda Farr Macgregor is a freelance writer. Contact her at jmacgregor1@roadrunner.com

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