Let’s hear it for Oquossoc! The yearly celebration that was held on Saturday, August 15,  was limited for safety but in my opinion had just the right amount of enthusiastic people for both safety and fun. Along with the many vendors in front of the Outdoor Heritage Museum and behind Oquossoc Grocery, there was the one spectator event.

“Rangeley Fire first on the scene, dig, dig, dig!” hollered Rangeley Fire & Rescue Chief Michael Bacon. Then, all of a sudden, a crash followed by tears of laughter.

This pretty much sums up the scene for the 2020 Oquossoc Day Challenge Cup where the members of the Rangeley Fire Department competed against representatives from the Maine Warden Service, the U.S. Border Patrol and the Franklin County Sherriff’s Department.

The crash was held during the blindfolded portion of the competition. “This is why we stay on land!” called out one of the members of the Franklin County Sherriff’s dept. Again, roars of laughter. At other points in the event, some of the competitors got dunked in water and there was that one boat that got totally filled with water. All in good fun of course. There really was constant laughter at Oquossoc Cove.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Dee Minear, a former colleague, amongst the attendees.  Although she no longer works for Sun Media Group with me, she still takes photos for fun. “Outdoors has always been my thing”, she said. Along with Ben and James Gaudet, they came from Kingfield to show their support to their friends in the state police department. Among them, Jill Monahan of Kingfield who was the girl in the middle of the boat who couldn’t stop laughing as she basically directed the boat that crashed into the dock. I’m pretty sure the laughing was incontrollable, so it’s not really her fault. I doubt they had time to practice and definitely not blindfolded!

“This is hilarious” Dee Minear exclaimed. I asked her if she felt safe at the event that had a relatively low turn-out but still a lot of enthusiasm and she did not hesitate to say she did. I asked her if she felt this way regardless of where she was, and that was not the case. “There are places I won’t go to, just because I’m worried about bringing it back here. Our numbers or so low, you know what I mean?”

I do. We are so lucky to be in the Rangeley area during this time.

Later on the competitors continued to entertain as they showed their lack of competitive racing. “Oh, if this was a reverse race, oh look out!” exclaimed one of the bystanders.

Bill Pierce, “Talk about a photo finish! Rangeley Fire is going to cross the finish line backwards!” However, Gary Langille who was at the Oquossoc Marina to both video and judge on close calls, announced via walkie-talkie that the state police were the ones that wound up winning. In keeping with the slapstick vibe, they too finished first but by going backwards! “They both finished backwards, and that was the finals!” Bill Pierce laughed.

Who knows, maybe next year they will add a backwards competition.

Later on, after the crash, Pierce was sure to remind everyone several times before (and during) the Rangeley Boat competition that the competitors needed to handle the boats with care! “Keep going Rangeley! But remember, they’re antique!” Pierce cheered.

I had to ask David Davol, of Strong, competing for Franklin County Sherriff’s office, and the one who led the boat into the initial crash what exactly happened. “I think it was a combination of miscommunication and not being able to see where you were going.” Simple enough, but he also agreed with me that the laughter on Monahan’s part might have been problematic. Davol had never competed in this Oquossoc Day event but was obviously having a great time. “We work together all the time, always seeing each other, so it’s good to have a big fun event with everybody where we’re not working and worrying about everything else. It’s just nice to get together and just laugh a little bit.”

I thanked him for the entertainment and he responded, “I’m glad we could cause a few laughs!”

The final winners for the Oquossoc Day Challenge Cup was the group on the cover of this issue, representing the Maine Warden Service, Scott Stevens, Kyle Hladik & Cindy Egan. Two- Semis were followed by a 3rd Place race for 3rd place and then a Championship in each discipline was held. 12 total Races in 3 disciplenes.

Kayak Relay Final – Franklin Sheriff Dept. defeated Rangeley FD

Blind Canoe Final – Warden Service Defeated Rangeley FD

Crew Style Rangeley Boat Race Final – U.S. Border Patrol Defeated Warden Service

Final Point Standings –

Maine Warden Service had 6 total Cup points with a 3rd & 1pt. in Kayak, 1st and 3pts. in Blind Canoe and a 2nd and 2 pts. In the Rangeley Boat Race.

3- way tie for 2nd place with 4 Cup point each: U.S. Border Patrol, RFD, Franklin Sheriff’s Dept

However, Bill Pierce said it best, ““When it comes to first responders, there are no losers!”

After the Challenge Cup I headed towards the sound of the live music. Tom Ball was leading the band and singing a line from a song by the Georgia Satellites that I’m guessing he knew was completely appropriate for the times. “Don’t hand me no lines and keep your hands to yourself!” Afterwards, he continued with another great and appropriate tune by Bachman Turner Overdrive, announcing “This one goes out to the woodcutters, the lumberjacks, the guys who go out in the woods, the guys working on your house.” The song was “Taking Care of Business” and it kept the crowd pleased and I believe there was even some dancing!

Happily representing Franklin County Sherriff’s Dept.

The crash during the blindfolded competition had the crowd in complete hysterics. If you look closely you can see photographer on the dock Dee Minear’s jaw dropped in disbelief. Stephanie Chu-O’Neil 

Proudly representing Rangeley Fire and Rescue

Dee Minear and Ben and James Gaudet

I asked Bill Pierce how it was going and he responded, “How’s it going Bill? “Awesome, it’s a panic!”

Tom Ball ….

Bill Pierce said it best, ““When it comes to first responders, there are no losers!”

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