WILTON — Selectperson Tom Saviello is trying to revive the currently-canceled Wilton Blueberry Festival.

Saviello announced to the Wilton Select Board Tuesday, June 1, that he and Town Manager Rhonda Irish are working on plans for a blueberry festival in Wilton with Ambition Brewing owner Jeff Chaison and Scott Lavertu, executive director of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce.

“We’re going to try something for sure that first full weekend in August, some kind of a celebration,” Saviello said. “I want to emphasize Wilton as best as we can.”

The proposed plans include a “fun” golf tournament, an emphasis on Wilton vendors, “the blueberry breakfast” at the Lions Club, multiple prizes in the parade, and retired Chairperson Shannon Smith as the Grand Marshal.

It will likely be a smaller version than what Wilton normally hosts, Saviello said.

“It’s to keep it so we don’t lose it,” he said. “I think next year we’ll have a better plan to put into place. You give it up two years in a row, people lose their touch to it. Let’s just pick it up and see what we can do to keep it going.”


Saviello said it will not technically be called the Wilton Blueberry Festival because of “legal issues that have to be sorted out.”

The 38th annual Wilton Blueberry Festival was initially canceled by festival directors in mid-May because they felt it was “impossible to manage (COVID-19) restrictions within a public setting.” However, the Center for Disease Control lifted the mask mandate and social distancing requirements for vaccinated individuals a few days later.

Saviello said he did not fault Smith for cancelling the official festival because CDC guidelines had not yet changed and there was money at stake. He also said that Smith will remain retired and not take part in executing these new plans, though she was offered the chance.

He encouraged anyone interested in helping with the festival to contact Irish at the town office.

In other business, Irish reminded the board and public that there is an election on Tuesday, June 8, to fill the Wilton seat on the Regional School Unit 9 Board of Directors and a seat on the Wilton Select Board. Voters will choose between Gwendolyn Doak and Tammy Sue Mayhew for the RSU 9 board and between Evret Greer and current Selectperson Phil Hilton for the select board.

Voters will also be deciding whether to approve the RSU 9 budget, which is set at $38.9 million, with an additional $477,406 for adult education. It will cost Wilton taxpayers $2.8 million, a 0.78% increase from the previous year.


The election will take place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Wilton Town Office.

The board also heard from Irish about the Wilson Lake retaining wall. The board approved a plan to update the retaining wall and waterfront area in April.

Irish received an engineering estimate for the project from Sevee & Maher Engineers of $760,620 with a 20% contingency, “which fits in with” Irish’s expectations. This figure could increase or decrease when it goes out to bid.

Irish is applying on behalf of the town for “congressional directive for infrastructure funding” that would help finance the construction on the retaining wall. Irish clarified afterward she is applying for “at least $500,000” and it would come through Senator Susan Collins’s office. All of that money would go toward funding the project, she said.

In other business, the board is moving forward with plans for a 2-mile ATV route in Wilton, which was first requested by the Western Maine ATV Club in February.

The route would would start at Steve’s Family Market on Depot Street and continue to Main Street and “go with the flow of traffic.”

Irish recommended the board approve the route on an annual basis after reviewing what kinds of complaints or issues regarding the route come in.

Saviello agreed and suggested the ATV club be charged with writing the rules for the route including speed limits, opening and closing times and how to police it. Irish suggested the police department review the rules before it comes back to the board.

Once the rules are written and Department of Transportation signs are posted, the board will make final approval.

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