Heritage Days celebrate Bath's enriched community

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BATH — Eighty is the magic number in this year’s Heritage Days celebration, particularly since it’s the age of Bath City Hall.

“Remembering 80 Years Past … Planning 80 Years Hence” is the theme of this 37th annual event, which runs Thursday, July 2, through Sunday, July 5. The title reflects the nature of the parade floats, which will incorporate styles of the Roaring Twenties with what participants envision as the world of 80 years into the future.

Music is a huge part of Heritage Days. Bands play before the Fourth of July parade, which begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday, and all through the four-day event, culminating with the James Montgomery Blues Band at Waterfront Park from 7:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Sunday. Other musical acts include ‘80s tribute band Twyce Shy at Waterfront Park from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, harmonic pop group Alter Igor at Library Park from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, and Elvis impersonator Robert Washington at Waterfront Park from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

The Smokey’s Greater Shows carnival will run all through Heritage Days. The tall ship Bluenose will also be at the Maine Maritime Museum on Sunday through Tuesday. Sunday will see the Front Street Shuffle antique car show from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., as well as a boat parade on the Kennebec River at 1 p.m.

Fireworks will end Heritage Days with a bang at 9:15 p.m. Sunday.

For those with food in mind, Heritage Days specials are available at the following establishments: J.R. Maxwell, Kennebec Tavern, Beale Street Barbecue, Betty’s Diner, Mae’s Cafe, Solo Bistro, the Cabin, and the Bounty Restaurant at the Holiday Inn. You can also chow down at the Chili-Chowderfest at Library Park from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, hosted by the Bath Skatepark, and for dessert there at 7 p.m., take part in a whoopee pie eating contest.

In order to make room for those extra calories, try the strongman’s competition at the Waterfront Park bandstand at 1 p.m. Saturday. Another event requiring power and endurance is the time-honored fireman’s muster, which will be held at the north end of Front Street from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

“Obviously the reason we promote Heritage Days is to try to help the downtown – the stores, and the restaurants,” said Ed Rogers, coordinator of the event. “That’s our goal … to keep the downtown alive and well.”

In the 30 years since he co-founded the J.R. Maxwell restaurant on Front Street, Bath’s downtown has come a long way, Rogers recalled. At that time, he surmised, a third of the downtown was empty.

Now, he said, “it’s like a different world.”

When Rogers took over Heritage Days as its first paid coordinator, his goal was to unify the event’s various aspects under a common theme in order to attract bigger sponsors and have more money to spend on improving the celebration, he said.

“My marketing budget is 15 times what it was last year,” Rogers said. “I think it should be a better event.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.