Organizers delay Topsham 250th anniversary weekend to October

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TOPSHAM — The town’s 250th anniversary weekend bash, originally planned for the middle of July, has been postponed to Columbus Day weekend.

In part because of competing events, “We couldn’t generate the activities, and the people to get the activities off the ground,” Steve Edmondson, who co-chairs the 250th steering committee, said Monday.

Since the beginning of its work in 2012, the committee had planned a July 18-20 event as a nod to Topsham’s three-day celebration in July 1964 of its 200th anniversary as an incorporated town. The Fairgrounds event was to include a 5K road race, firemen’s muster, old-fashioned barn dance, Head of Tide Park celebration, Civil War re-enactment and quilter’s festival.

But the venerable Yarmouth Clam Festival will be held that weekend, on the heels of Bath’s Heritage Days celebration. And it’s tough, with people being busy during the summer, to get them to commit to activities, Edmondson said.

There should be less competition in autumn, and more residents are expected to be around. “We’re trying to draw on that old feeling they had when the Topsham Fair was in the fall,” Edmondson said.

Schools will be back in session, too, and may be able to help produce activities, and provide use of their facilities, he said.

One event in mind for Columbus Day weekend is an old-fashioned contra dance at the Fairgrounds. The committee has also been allowed use, at no cost, of the Frost Mansion on Elm Street, which is now part of the Highlands retirement community complex. Activities like a ballroom dance, or wine and cheese event, are being considered.

“It is an historic building in Topsham; a lot of significance,” Edmondson said. “A lot of people don’t realize there’s a ballroom there.”

RE/MAX real estate has offered the use of a hot-air balloon, which will be inflated, but tethered to the ground.

The 5K road race will be on the fall schedule, too, Edmondson said, adding that “everything that we were hoping to do in July, we’re … sort of pushing off into October, just thinking that’s going to be a better weekend to draw people to both get involved in the activities and attend the activities.”

An event that had been planned for July 12 – “Two Topshams, Two Bridges, Two Pubs,” where residents of the Topshams here and in the county of Devon, England, would share a drink at the same time via an Internet video link – has been postponed, to a date to be determined.

Enthusiasm has been strong on this side of the Atlantic, but not as much on the other, and the logistics of establishing the Internet connection have been a bit difficult, Edmondson said.

“We’re not abandoning the idea, although it may take a different shape or form,” he said.

If the funds are available, the year-long celebration may end the same way it began, with a New Year’s Eve bonfire at the Topsham Fairgrounds on Dec. 31.

Log onto the committee’s Facebook page, “Topsham, Maine 250th Celebration,” and its website,, to learn more, contact the committee, share ideas or to volunteer to help with the year’s events.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.