Longtime Wilton Blueberry Festival Chairwoman Shannon Chase Smith will step down, effective Oct. 15. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

WILTON — Shannon Chase Smith will step down as chairwoman after this year’s Wilton Blueberry Festival in August. It will mark her 30th year as leader of the community celebration, which marks 38 years in August.

“It’s time,” Smith said last week after announcing her decision at the festival’s annual meeting. “I struggled with this.”

Keeping to her rule of holding positions in increments of five years, Smith said, “It’s the way I am. If I stayed, it would have to be for another five years. I knew I wasn’t ready to do it until 35.”

Her children gave their blessing when she told them before announcing it publicly.

“They said to make sure it was what I wanted to do,” she said. “They’ve supported me. They understood where I was coming from.”

“I’ve eaten, slept and drunk the Wilton Blueberry Festival for 30 years,” she said. “It’s been a big part of my life and my family’s lives. My children grew up with this.”

She will step down Oct. 15.

In an email last week, the festival board wrote, “In her role as chair, Shannon has increased the footprint of the festival to include many events which include a large parade, firemen’s muster, entertainment, crafts, and a variety of vendors, which culminate with a fireworks display over Wilson Lake.”

Smith said personal highlights for her over the past 30 years included having the replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 2005 and the medical inflatables in 2014 when people from 43 states signed the guestbook.

But there’s still one long-sought-after goal that she hopes to reach this year: getting the Budweiser Clydesdale hitch to the festival Aug. 7 and 8.

“It would be the highlight of my life to have them come after 27 years of asking,” Smith said. “More than 200 letters of support were sent one year. I’ve put in for them again this year” and asked that they be part of the State of Maine Bicentennial Parade on Saturday, May 16.

When she gives up her leadership in the fall, she won’t be sitting on the sidelines. She’ll continue her participation with the Farmington Emblem Club No. 460, Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, Franklin Memorial Hospital Auxiliary and Farmington Horsemen’s Association.

“I’ll keep busy,” Smith said. “I’ll be able to enjoy Dummer’s Beach, spend more time with my grandchildren there. I won’t have to come home and give up special time with them.”

“I’ll still be very active,” she said. “That’s my life. I love my community. It will be different.”

Those who wish to help with the festival are invited to call her at 207-778-4726 or email [email protected]

Wilton Blueberry Festival Chairwoman Shannon Chase Smith, left, poses with her daughter Amylynn Bibeau, her grandson Corbin Bibeau and Portland Sea Dogs’ mascot Slugger during the 2016 festival. Submitted photo

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