LEWISTON – The day before the governor’s conference on the creative economy, the Bates Mill opened to the public.

Rachel Desgrosseilliers was amazed at the number of former mill workers who showed up to walk the worn wood floors and poke around.

“They were so proud,” said Desgrosseilliers, director of Museum L-A. They told her stories. One man brought in his old loom fixing tools and donated them to the museum.

“A lot of the history’s being lost right now. This is something that needs to be celebrated,” she said.

A committee has formed to throw a Mill Worker’s Reunion in October, open to anyone who worked in a Lewiston textile mill. It’s tentatively set for Sunday, Oct. 17.

There will be food, entertainment and plenty of socializing, all inside the Bates Mill. One of the obstacles: whether to plan for 200 or 2,000 people.

Ray St. Pierre, who served as treasurer and vice president at the mill and sits on the planning committee, said flyers might go out with pension checks to notify people about the event.

“So far, there hasn’t been anything concrete on how we’re going to approach this,” he said.

The planning committee’s next meeting is scheduled for July 20.

Desgrosseilliers said the committee hopes it will be able to record oral histories during the reunion, about what it was like to work in the mills.

Organizers said they will have a place where people can get more information once details are decided upon.


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