FRYEBURG – The Forest Resource Center at Fryeburg Fair has changed its name along with its focus to keep pace with the shifting landscape.

“Changes to the forest industry in recent years have provided us an opportunity to focus more on all resources that affect the people in our area,” said Judy Haynes, center superintendent. “Education is our primary mission and the building will be filled with a number of energy alternatives.”

The Natural Resource Center this year will feature educational exhibits on solar energy, wind power, wood pellets and geothermal in addition to its traditional offerings from the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine, Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the White Mountain National Forest, the University of Maine and a variety of wood products.

Visitors to the 158th fair, which starts Sunday, Sept. 28, will also find a newly constructed fire tower that replicates the Kearsarge Tower in Bartlett, N.H. Former tower lookouts will be on hand to answer questions. Any former fire tower observers interested in participating are asked to call Judy Haynes at 207-935-3268.

The Kearsarge North or Pequawket Tower, as it is known, was built in 1901 and staffed until 1968. The tower was transferred from the state to the United States Forest Service in 1951 and restored in 1991.

On a clear day, the Pequawket Tower will be visible due west from the Fryeburg tower, a distance of about 15 miles. It is the only federal tower still standing in Maine and New Hampshire.

The 11-by-11 foot tower interior will include the map stand that came from the Pleasant Mountain Tower along with an original Aladae sighting device.

Maine once had more than 107 fire towers, said Maine Forest Ranger Mark Mayhew, who has been the primary resource on the project. They were phased in and out over the years through a cooperative effort among the Maine, New Hampshire and U.S. forest services.

“This came out perfect,” Mayhew said days before the fair as he watched the finishing touches being put on the structure.

The towers operated from roughly when the snow went, around April 1, until late October or early November when the fire danger subsided. Telephone was the primary means of communication. Radios weren’t used until the late 1940s.

Another new exhibit is the Northern Forest Center’s Ways of the Woods: People and the Land in the Northern Forest. The educational program housed in an 18-wheel truck explores culture and heritage across the Northern Forest region of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York.

The Forestry Resource Center was the first of its kind when it was built in 1990. The original focus was to house displays and exhibits that represent all of the state’s forest activities from harvesting to papermaking to wood turning, including recreational use. A number of classes from area schools will visit the educational building during fair week.

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