The blond-haired girl and her father, Dwayne Hewins, were among thousands of people who attended Dexter’s 200th birthday celebration under Saturday’s sunny skies.
Organizers, who spent months planning the celebration, conducted events similar to those held during the town’s centennial celebration in 1901. Church bells pealed earlier this year to announce the bicentennial as they did for the centennial festivities, and on Saturday the church bells pealed yet again.
Rather than a volley of minicannons such as were fired during the centennial, members of the local Veterans of Foreign War and the American Legion Post announced the noon ceremony on the town hall steps by discharging military rifles. The loud booms caused several of the spectators, especially children, to cover their ears.
Weaving the past into the present was Rick Whitney, curator of the Dexter Historical Society Museum, who read letters sent to Dexter residents in 1901. One native wrote home to a friend that he would miss Old Home Week because he would be in a European port. “Dear old Dexter, what memories it recalls,” he wrote, noting the time the town hall floor fell into the cellar, taking participants of a town meeting with it.
For Town Manager Robert Simpson, the parade and events exceeded his expectations. “Despite my fears, it all came together on the eleventh hour,” he said during the noon ceremony. In straw hat and sunglasses, Simpson praised the organizers of the event. “It was quite an undertaking.”
Announcing that he was a bona fide son of the Confederacy, who is now a bona fide Yankee and loving it, Simpson thanked the early settlers for their determination to succeed in Dexter. “Dexter is small-town America in its finest,” he said.
That theme was the basis of a musical piece written by Edward Hummel of Garland and sung collectively Saturday by the performers of “Our Town,” a theatrical production of the Wayside Theater Group.
Also during the noon ceremony, Sen. Paul Davis, R-Sangerville, and Rep. James Tobin, R-Dexter, presented to the town framed proclamations from President Bush, Gov. Angus King, and the Maine House of Representatives and Senate.
Winners of the parade contest announced by Peter Haskell, a Town Council member, were: business, first place, Bud’s Shop ’n Save; second place, Integrity, and third place, Tillson’s. Winning organizations were: first place, Tri County Tech; second place, Waldheim Association, and third place, Dexter post office. Family floats that were considered winning entries were as follows: first place, Wakefields; second place, Robinson Oil, and third place, Smith family. The Dexter Recreation Department received a trophy for the best costumed scooter; the Pooper Scooper took the creativity award, and the Dover-Foxcroft Fire Department received the best antique vehicle award.
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