Depot Street Festival this Saturday

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

LONG TIME COMING — Ken Murphy, fundraising chairman for the Bridgton Community Center’s Board of Directors, has been one of the driving forces behind the return of a carnival. Here, he shows off the huge poster announcing the Depot Street Festival this Saturday, July 30 at Stevens Brook Elementary School. (Geraghty Photo)

For the first time anyone can remember, a carnival is coming to Bridgton, at the Depot Street Festival this Saturday, July 30, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Stevens Brook Elementary School. Rain date is Sunday, July 31.

A Ferris Wheel, a Scrambler, Big Swing, Spinning Apple and a Driving Hammer, along with a half-dozen intermediate rides and a choo-choo train for the little kids, are being set up this week on the school grounds by D & L Amusements of Tilton, N.H., said an enthusiastic Ken Murphy, fundraising chairman for the Bridgton Community Center’s Board of Directors and chairman of this year’s festival.

“No one can remember when the last time was that a carnival came to town, if at all,” he said Monday. It was thought that a carnival was held during the town’s Bicentennial in 1968, but that turned out not to be the case, he said. “Maybe Smokey’s Great Rides came here way back, but I couldn’t find anyone who remembers when.”

In any case, it’s a big deal, said Murphy, since D & L Amusements — which travels all over New England and does Sebago Days — will grant a big boost to attendance levels at the festival, which also will feature two live bands and the return of its ever-popular $10 pig roast, served from noon “until the 200-pound pig runs dry.”

If the weather cooperates, organizers hope to at least double the $5,000 raised at last year’s event for the Community Center. This year’s proceeds will go toward outfitting the new kitchen, and all profits will be matched by a grant from the Ham Foundation, Murphy said.

The amusement company gives the center a percentage of their “take” from the cost of rides and its concessions and games. “That’s why it was a no-brainer for us” to decide to move the festival this year from the community center to the school, said Murphy.

Both the company and the community center have insurance to cover the carnival rides, he said. Parking will be available behind the school, on the side of Depot Street and the Depot Street parking lot.

Local nonprofit organizations and businesses will have booths set up, and the bands Wrong Road and Relic, which played at the Winter Carnival, will perform on stage from 5 to 8 p.m. Local businessmen Chris McDaniels and Wayne Allen have volunteered to cook the pig roast meal, which will also include corn on the cob, baked beans, coleslaw and a drink.

All of the members of the community center’s board of directors will be volunteering at the event. Many local businesses have supported the festival by buying ads in the program booklet, which includes a full list of the many programs and events provided by the community center, a former armory taken over by the town six or seven years ago. The center has since become an independent, nonprofit organization, with town support, although that support was cut back by $6,700 this year. The decrease in town support makes the festival even more important as a fundraising project this year, Murphy said.

“When people open up the booklet and see how many things we do at the community center, it blows your mind,” said Murphy. These include the Senior Lunch, Community Kettle Dinner, the BCC Fuel Collaborative, Kids Katering Food Program, Community Gardens, classes and a place for groups to hold meetings.

For more information on the festival, call Murphy at 242-9417.

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