LISBON — There will be plenty that looks familiar when the Moxie Festival gets rolling this weekend.

The bright orange T-shirts, hats and shoes. The car show. The parade. The mounds of food and the dark, sparkling beverage everywhere you turn.

The midsummer tribute to the famed tonic is as popular as ever, but there will be notable differences this year.

The last of the Worumbo Mill is succumbing to wrecking balls on the edge of town.

Dairy Maid, right in the heart of the city, is in operation for its last summer after 64 years as a Lisbon icon.

And there’s Frank Anicetti, an icon himself, who for the first time in decades, will not be in the thick of things when the parade gets underway. Neither will his store, Kennebec Fruit Co., the birthplace of Moxie, at the corner of Routes 196 and 125.

At some point in the previous week, Anicetti and a crew cleaned out the store, which has been in operation in that spot, across from the Worumbo Mill, since 1913.

“With the future of Frank’s store uncertain,” said Lisbon writer Jim Baumer, “another landmark in town seems doomed to become a historical footnote.”

It’s not so uncertain anymore.

As hard as it is to believe, the Kennebec Fruit Co. store is closed for good, its eclectic goods cleared off the shelves and hauled to Daniel Buck Auctions to be put on the block this weekend.

After five vanloads and four truckloads, the store was almost empty.

“It feels weird,” Anicetti said on Thursday.

It’s a vague answer, but Anicetti is not known for vagueness. Asked why he is closing up shop after all those decades, he makes no bones about it.

“Too much stress, too much hassle,” Anicetti said. “It got to the point where it was starting to effect my health a little bit. I decided that the stress is too much.”

He’s been having breathing problems, Anicetti said, and landed in the hospital at one point. His doctor blamed stress from the store, and Frank was obliged to believe him.

So he cleaned out the store, which will be sold. All of the trinkets accumulated over the years will be auctioned off and Moxie headquarters (or The Moxie Museum, if you prefer) will be no more.

Anicetti, as is his way, waxes philosophical about what the future might hold. He considers himself married to the store, after all.

“It’s time that I cross the road and see what’s on the other side of the street,” he said. “I miss it — yet I have accepted that it’s time that I make a change. It’s time that I live life for me — and not for my wife, the store.”

Anicetti will be at the auction house at 5:30 p.m. Friday to chitchat with people as they browse the auction items. 

“It’s such a great collection of stuff,” auctioneer Daniel Buck Soules said. “This is 100 years of a family running the Kennebec Fruit Co.”

It’s hard to say what will be the greater attraction: all of the stuff from the Moxie store — or Anicetti himself.

“I’m getting calls every day from people all over the country who are coming to the festival,” Anicetti said. “They want to know where to see me and what to do.”

An auction seems an odd way to begin the Moxie Festival, but then, it’s been an odd year for Lisbon — an oddity that seemed to beset the town three years ago when Graziano’s Casa Mia restaurant was closed and then torn down.

Graziano’s memorabilia will be on the block alongside Anicetti’s wares when the auction gets underway.

For Anicetti, in his 70s, this year’s Moxie Festival marks a profound change in his life. In fact, he considers the auction a part of the mourning process.

“I figure Thursday is the obituary,” he said. “Friday is going to be the viewing and Saturday is the funeral. On Sunday, I walk away with a smile on my face.”

Sure. But where to walk? Anicetti has been a fixture on that stool inside Moxie Headquarters for so long, one might suspect that gravity holds him there. But Anicetti has it figured out. He’s got a little moxie of his own.

“Last Monday, I got up and I went down there to Popham Beach. I haven’t been down there since the ’50s,” he said. “Tuesday, I got up and went to Old Orchard Beach. I haven’t done THAT since the ’50s.

“This morning, I said to heck with it. I’m staying home,” Anicetti said. “I’m relaxed. I think this is going to be good for me.”

What: Auction of goods from Kennebec Fruit Co. aka Moxie Headquarters, and other items of local interest.

When: 1 p.m. Saturday, July 9

Where: 551 Lisbon St, Lisbon.

Who: Daniel Buck Auctions


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