The internationally beloved “Where’s Waldo” character and his faithful dog Woof will be hiding in all of downtown Farmington during the month of July, waiting for fans to discover them during the family-themed contest and gala celebration party on July 31.

WESTERN MAINE SUMMER FUN: Visitors to western Maine will find a diversity of activities that challenge the imagination, fill the tummy and make a whole lot of noise.

For a traditional Maine meal on the second Saturday in August, join the Porter Lake Association’s 45-year-old tradition, the annual Bean-Hole Bean Supper from 5-6:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9, at the Strong Public Beach, popularly known as “Beanie’s Beach.”

The 77-year-old Association began in July, 1937, according to Association President Mark Ranger. Strong and New Vineyard fishermen joined to organize the Porter Lake Fish and Game Association. Although WWII postponed the growth of membership and activities, people from the area began to build camps near the lake.

During the war, the fishing also declined, and the dam deteriorated. In 1946, members began a campaign for better fishing. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Game helped with restoration efforts. By 1950, the group had 40 members, and camp owners began spending more time in four-season outdoor recreational activities.

Dinner gatherings always were popular social events, so the group began holding the traditional Saturday night bean supper. This year it’s on the second Saturday, which is a change, from the usual first Saturday in the month, Ranger noted.

“The annual supper started in 1969,” he said. “It’s a combination of a community gathering, a reunion, and a chance for visitors to see our gem of a lake and its beautiful beach.”

The traditional brick-lined fire pit has been restored, and diners can sit at new benches and tables with a spectacular view of the Longfellow Range. Loons float nearby, and the sunsets are spectacular.

Association members prepare and heat 60 pounds of beans, salt pork, molasses, brown sugar and mustard in six huge canning kettles. The kettles are picked up by boat at the six camps and brought to the beach. The delicious concoction is placed in a three-foot deep fire pit full of coals and is baked underground all day.

Finish the meal of beans, hot dogs, rolls and drinks and salads with home-baked desserts. For more information, visit the Association’s Facebook page or website at porterlakeassociation.com.

For the amateur detective, July offers a treasure hunt for a special character and his dog. In 2013, a small Farmington bookstore, Devaney, Doak and Garrett Booksellers, was one of 250 national retailers who celebrated Waldo’s 25th anniversary the entire month of July with a “Where’s Waldo” search party. The event was a great success, said DD&G owner Kenny Brechner, so he’s planning to make this year’s adventure even more exciting.

“We had more than 400 kids and grown-ups who participated in the search last summer,” he said. “We also had a great crowd at our gala Waldo Party afterward.”

The famous cartoon character in the striped shirt and black-rimmed specs will hide in most of the downtown Farmington retail businesses, and those who spot him will win a prize.

“This year, we’ll have the mini-Waldo figures to find, but we’ll also ask everyone to look for Woof, Waldo’s dog,” said Brechner.

Participants will start by getting their “Where’s Waldo Passport” at the DD&G bookstore.

“The passport lists all the participating businesses,” Brechner said. “Collect a signature on the passport for each Waldo you spot.”

Collect at least 16 signatures and return the passport to Brechner to get an “I Found Waldo” sticker and an entry for prizes to be drawn at a Waldo party on July 31. The grand prize is a six-volume set of Waldo books. People who prefer a shorter version of the hunt can collect signatures from eight businesses to get the sticker.

“We have only 200 stickers, so everyone needs to hit the ground running on July 1,” he said.

Martin Handford created the entertaining drawings of crowd scenes in 1987. The Waldo character captured children’s imaginations, and today there are over 58 million Waldo books in print worldwide, translated into 18 languages. For more information about hunting for Waldo and Woof, call 207-778-3454 or email [email protected]

For those who enjoy getting noisy and dirty, three western Maine mud runs and race tracks offer spectacular action all summer long. The Lovewell family in Livermore started playing in the mud six years ago, when their cornfields were too wet to plant in the spring. They rented a pumper and just had fun riding around with their vehicles, David Lovewell said.

“We started having more friends come by and join us, and then we started having some competitions,” he said. “We got to the point where we decided we could make a business out of having fun.”

Last summer, he said, events could easily draw 1,000 people on any weekend. Crowds come from all over the state and beyond to spend the weekend at his primitive camping facilities. Each Independence Day celebration includes a big bonfire, fireworks, music and dancing.

Truck owners can enter in several categories, depending on the modifications they’ve made. While the outside of an old truck can look dilapidated, the engine under the hood can be souped up to be a powerful contender in these contests.

Some contestants spend thousands of dollars on their vehicles, while others enter something that won’t pass state inspection to be “street legal” and they just want to have some fun. Each competitor pays an entry fee and have the vehicle inspected. State safety regulations require helmets and reinforced or protected gas tanks.

Crowds anticipate outrageous antics and action, so one company has made a business filming some of these competitions around the country. Lovewell said he is especially excited this year to be chosen as one of the “Trucks Gone Wild” competitions that could put some of the local mud runners on film.

Route 4 Racetrack and Mud Run competitions in Strong and the Northwoods Pulling & Muddin’ Track in Avon offer similar competitions and will provide Maine competitors with more chances to accumulate points to compete in the grand finale in the fall.

“We will be hosting the 2014 Bogfather Championship on Oct. 5,” Route 4 track owner Tim Ladd said.

Winners from seven Maine tracks will make the final cut, and their championship competitions will feature the best of the best in all racing categories. For more information about all of the western Maine tracks and schedules, visit their Facebook pages and websites.


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