BETHEL – The western Maine town which became famous 225 years ago for suffering the last Indian raid in New England, is celebrating its history this weekend.

Bethel, or Sudbury Canada as it was known when granted township status in 1768, is to begin its 27th annual, three-day Sudbury Canada Days celebration at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 11.

David H. Watters, director of the Center for New England Culture at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, N.H., is to present the 15th annual Hall Memorial Lecture on “New England’s Legacy: Memory and Identity in an American Region,” in the Mason House Exhibit Hall.

The bulk of the activities begin Saturday, Aug. 12, and end Sunday, Aug. 13.

No town buildings are to be burned, unlike what happened in the first few 50-year anniversaries of the Aug. 3, 1781, raid by western Abenaki Indians, no town buildings will be burned, Randy Bennett, curator of collections and assistant director of the Bethel Historical Society said Wednesday afternoon.

“In 1881, they burned a building, and in 1931, they burned a log cabin located behind Gould Academy, but, in 1981, they didn’t burn any buildings,” Bennett said, because by then, historians realized that the Abenakis didn’t burn buildings in the raid.

Instead, they ransacked them, killing two people and taking several captives to the British in Canada for bounty. One captive, a Bethel man, returned to Sudbury Canada and wrote a book about the experience, which will be on display during the festival, Bennett said.

At least 20 members of an 18th century re-enactment troupe will be commemorating the 225th anniversary of the raid in some fashion, but Bennett doubted they’d officially recreate the attack.

“We may also have someone from the Penobscot Nation do a talk and demonstration about building birch bark canoes,” Bennett said.

Other Saturday activities include a horseshoe tournament starting at 10 a.m., and at 1 p.m., a children’s parade based on the theme, “Early settlers and the Indians;” old-time children’s games, an ice cream-eating contest, and traditional craft demonstrations and exhibits.

Additionally, from 1 to 4 p.m., there will be a flower and art show, historical films, and a farming and logging exhibit.

Both a badminton and croquet tournament begin at 2 p.m. A Log Driver’s Bean Supper with pies will start at 5 p.m., Bennett said.

It is the only Sudbury Days event that isn’t free.

A re-enactors presentation at 7 p.m. ends the day.

From 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 13, the flower show, historical films, and farming and logging exhibit continue.

New this year, Bennett said, is a 2 p.m. lecture and book signing by Thomas C. Hubka, author of “Big House, Little House, Back House, Barn.”

His presentation and slide show in the Mason House Exhibit Hall is “Maine’s Connected Farm Buildings: The Uncommon Architecture of the Common Farmer.”

At 7 p.m., an old-time hymn sing starts in the Middle Intervale Meetinghouse on Intervale Road in Bethel.

“It sounds like the weather will be cooperative, so, we’re hoping for a good turnout. In busy times, we’ve had a few hundred people. At other times, 60 to 70. So, we’re hoping for several hundred,” Bennett said.



Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.