Members of Bailey Ukulele perform Saturday outside the Monmouth Museum in Monmouth during AppleFest. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

MONMOUTH — On the fourth Saturday of September, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in Monmouth who couldn’t tell you that if you want apple pie, you have to head downtown.

You can get a slice, with ice cream, whipped cream or cheddar cheese, or you can get a whole pie to take home. But the important thing is that you get something because the Monmouth Museum’s AppleFest is the organization’s primary fundraiser, and pies are the cash crop.

“It’s a really good crowd,” Audrey Walker said, looking around Main Street from the back of the Apple Pie Cafe tent where she was fiddling with one of the crock pots filled with lunch offerings, noting that crock pots are all a little different.

Over the course of the day, volunteers were also dishing out baked beans, corn chowder, zuppa toscana, butternut squash soup and hot cider to the people who came to the town’s center to hear live music, tour the museum, watch the pie-eating contest and take in the offerings from crafters who have set up on Main Street.

Main Street was closed Saturday for AppleFest in Monmouth. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

While AppleFest is the the main fundraising event for the Monmouth Museum, which tells the history of the town, it’s also a draw for others with the same goal of raising money.

Along with the 50-50 raffle or a chance to win a Major League Baseball bat, the Friends of Cumston Hall hosted the 8 a.m. AppleFest 5k Run/Jog/Walk, the Center Church hosted a pancake breakfast from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., and the Lions Club held its yard sale on Beach Road to support its programs.


And after a brief time in the shade of Blossom House, Kris Sanborn shifted her display for the Monmouth Academy project to the sunny side of the walkway by the Stencil Shop.

Sanborn was one of the volunteers to share information about the town’s project to restore the original Monmouth Academy building that dates back to 1856, to make it into a building that can host events, meetings and voting.

While town voters approved spending $1.5 million to restore the building in 2021, Sanborn and other volunteers on the Former Academy Building Committee are fundraising to offset was town residents will have to pay.

“We’re getting the final budget with numbers,” Sanborn said. “Of course, with the scariness of the (price of)  building materials right now, it’s not stretching as far as we’d like. Fundraising is of utmost importance right now to supplement that.”

Spread out on the table were packaged commemorative throws woven and donated by the Maine Heritage Weavers at the Bates Mill and information about the academy.

“We’re all cautiously optimistic that we’ll be able to complete the project,” she said. “We might not be able to have bells and whistles and do a bunch of extra.”


For more than three decades, the last Saturday in September has been set aside in Monmouth for AppleFest, which capitalizes on the abundance of apples that are grown in nearby orchards. And each year is a little different.

This year, Bailey Ukulele commanded the attention of early festival-goers. For about 40 minutes on Saturday, the 10-member ukulele band played a range of songs that included Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel,” the hymn and spiritual “When the Saints Go Marching In,” and “Blackfly,” an ode to the pesky flying biter by Canadian folk singer Wade Hemsworth.

Apple pie slices wait for buying customers Saturday during AppleFest in Monmouth. Pies were for sale by the pie or the slice as part of the Monmouth Museum fundraiser. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

The band got its start about a decade ago in Wayne, later relocating to Winthrop, where its members meet weekly in the basement of the Bailey Library, from which it has taken its name.

“If you know a few chords, you can play a lot of songs,” member Lucinda Coombs said.  “A friend mine tells me there are musicians and people who play instruments. We play instruments.”

Coombs said she thinks the attraction to the ukulele is that it’s easy to pick up — because it’s both a small, light instrument and has only four strings.

The band’s membership usually hovers around a dozen and is always looking for new members, who are welcome to come Thursdays at 6 p.m. in the library’s basement.


When the group wrapped up its set, it ceded its place on the stage at the museum’s Carriage House to Bill Stone and the Stone Quarry Band.

Two years ago, the COVID-19 pandemic meant that AppleFest was canceled, but the work-around for pie fans was a drive-thru pie sale.

This year, it meant no wagon rides. Walker said volunteers could find no one with a team of horses willing to give rides.

But all in all, Walker said she was pleased with how the day was shaping up.

“We couldn’t ask for better a better day,” Walker said. “Maybe we could ask for less wind, but it’s a typical fall day.”

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