Plans afoot for Bridgton to celebrate Stephen King

By Gail Geraghty
Staff Writer

Stephen King lived off the Kansas Road in Bridgton in his early writing days, and he’s used the town as inspiration over and over again.

There’s The Mist, in which Food City takes center stage; and his latest, Under The Dome, in which the entire town is trapped within the terrifying force field of King’s imagination. The horror author’s generosity to Bridgton is legendary, having given over $100,000 to various local causes over the past decade, and half a million to Bridgton Hospital and its parent hospital, Central Maine Medical Center.

So what if he has a summer place in Lovell, and lives in Bangor and Florida the rest of the year? Why not have Bridgton celebrate the most famously scary author on the planet as one of their own?

Bridgton’s Economic and Community Development Director Alan Manoian thinks it’s a great idea. When he worked as the downtown development director in Lowell, Mass., in 1993, he and others came up with the idea to hold a Jack Kerouac Festival. The beat-era author of On The Road grew up in Lowell, and Manoian said the festival’s been so successful it attracts upwards of 20,000 people each year.

June 1 kick-off meeting

Manoian’s office is hosting a kick-off meeting on Wednesday, June 1, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Bridgton Municipal Center to gauge interest in organizing a two-day Stephen King literary heritage festival that could possibly happen as soon as October of this year. He wants to involve the library, the hospital, the local chamber and the Lake Region High School English Department. He wants to work with the Maine Department of Travel and Tourism on the festival, which could involve re-enactments, literary events and tours.

Manoian hasn’t contacted King yet about the plans, but he said the event could be successful whether King is involved or not. “It’s called the Bridgton Celebrates Stephen King Festival,” he said. Bridgton can, after all, celebrate whatever and whomever it chooses, he added.

“It has the potential to be the largest cultural event in the state of Maine,” said Manoian. To join the committee or for additional information, contact Manoian at 647-8786 or e-mail him at ecodevdir@bridgtonmaine.org

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