RUMFORD — Envision Rumford’s second annual Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Festival got off to an auspicious start on Saturday after heavy rain fell during the morning.

Thick fog had settled in, mostly obscuring the town from drivers on Routes 2 and 108. Then, as though by magic, the rain stopped and the fog started to rise shortly before the parade began at 10 a.m. on Route 2.

Five children and 11 adults lined Memorial Bridge on Bridge Street over the Androscoggin River to watch the short parade head into the downtown area.

Among the participants were heavy-duty logging equipment owned by Nicols Logging & Trucking of Rumford, a few antique tractors from the Maine Antique Tractor Club pulled on flatbed trailers by pickup trucks, Smokey the Bear and a friend in the back of a Maine Forest Service pickup truck driven by area Ranger Jay Bernard, members of the local Democratic party walking and waving, local police and Ernest Garcia of Gar-Lin Farm in Peru with his wagon and a team of horses.

Garcia was offering wagon rides around town and even took the horses and wagon through the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru, much to the delight of parade-watcher Heidi Cole of Andover.

After the parade, the heavy odor of fresh buttered popcorn set in along the Congress Street sidewalk past the post office toward festival central between Exchange and Hartford streets.

Dan Dolloff of Mexico won the Paul Bunyan look-alike contest and Lorilynn Blodgett of Rumford won the Paul’s girlfriend, Lucette, look-alike contest.

There were several games for children and a bunch participated along with adults in the blueberry pie-eating contest. Tables and chairs were set up along Congress Street.

“Just remember, blueberries are good for you,” Jim Rinaldo of Envision Rumford said into megaphone, trying to attract participants.

Pies donated by Hannaford were placed before each contestant. Jay Phillips of Lewiston, an on-air personality for WOXO, which was broadcasting at the festival, emceed many of the festivities.

Jason Dion, 15, won the pie-eating contest and Dolloff took second place.

“I didn’t think I was going to win,” Dion said after swallowing the last mouthful.

Chain saw carver John Arsenault of Rumford gave an exposition of his artistic skill afterward, carving a standing black bear on Exchange Street as the crowd started spreading out to other event venues.

“I think the turnout was pretty well, considering what it was earlier,” Jennifer Kreckel, president of Envision Rumford, said. “I’m happy.”

She said she thought the rain likely kept many people from attending, including some parade participants.

By 11:30 a.m., clouds gave way to blue sky, sunshine and summer-like warmth.

Then, shortly before 12:30 p.m., Oxford County Sheriff Wayne Gallant, Jimmy Salatino, a greeter at Walmart in Mexico, and Richard A. Pickett, Dixfield police chief and candidate for State House District 116, gathered for the free pie-throwing event. They had volunteered to be targets for pie tins loaded with whipped cream.

“How many times can people throw a pie in the face of the sheriff and not go to jail?” Gallant loudly asked the growing crowd, trying to drum up pie throwers.

Each took their turns standing behind a tall wooden painting of Paul Bunyan and placed their heads into cut-out hole for Bunyan’s head.

Raucous laughter soon mixed with the popcorn odor as children and adults mostly pushed rather than threw the pie tins of cream into the men’s faces.

Nearby, artists with the Teaberry Arts Council collaborated with writers with Literacy for ME to offer small children the opportunity to write tall tales.

Large pieces of drawing paper were taped to easels standing on the street for children to write and illustrate what Paul Bunyan might do if he came to Rumford, Barbara Radmore of Mexico said. Radmore is the program director for the Western Foothills Kids Association.

“They’re having a blast,” she said of the budding artists and writers.

Thanks to a $600 donation from Walmart, participating children were given Paul Bunyan books to take home, Radmore said.

“So it’s increasing art and literature and writing in the community,” she said.

Competition with a two-person crosscut saw soon got underway, with several people participating.

Maine Facial Hair Club members Bryan Hamner of Gardiner and Jake Michaud of Augusta, who sported long beards, gave the saw a try and took second place, finishing with a time of 37 seconds.

“We’ve never done this before,” Michaud said.

They came to participate in the next event, the facial hair contest, they said.

Afternoon events continued before culminating with a Flannel Dinner and Dance from 5:30 p.m. to midnight at the Eagles club.

“The festival’s been fantastic,” Radmore said. “It’s just such a good community event. Something we need, and Envision Rumford is awesome for setting this up. It’s been a perfect day.”

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