'The show will go on': North Yarmouth Fun Day is back, despite Wescustogo Hall fire

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NORTH YARMOUTH — After flames claimed the town’s landmark Wescustogo Hall the night of Aug. 29, some people probably wondered whether Fun Day, the town’s annual celebration held on the adjoining grounds, would still take place just weeks later.

But North Yarmouth is showing that the tragedy won’t keep it down, and that there’s still much to celebrate.

The annual gathering, in the works since January by the town’s Events Committee, will be held on schedule this Saturday, Sept. 21. It’s the first day of autumn, and this year’s Fun Day theme is “Summersault into Fall.”

“We’ll be squeezing things in,” committee Chairman Jason Raven said in a press release. “But the show will go on.”

The Events Committee will incorporate a remembrance of the 1950s Grange hall as part of Fun Day, and its members want the community to enjoy the day while reflecting on the loss. The North Yarmouth Historical Society also plans to start gathering images of the hall that residents may have in their private collections. More information on that project will be available at Fun Day.

Wescustogo’s expansive interior had been the place for presentations and children’s activities in prior Fun Days, and it was reserved as the rain location for events planned for the bandstand. Although most of the committee’s supplies for the event – such as tables and chairs for vendors and games pieces – had been stored in the building and were destroyed, some were kept in a nearby shed and were preserved.

The town and committee have been working together to rent replacements for what was lost. A games area for children, adjacent to the building, will be moved to a place on the opposite side of the Village Green.

Raven, who was a firefighter at the Wescustogo blaze, said Sunday that without Wescustogo serving as a rain location, the use of North Yarmouth Memorial School is one alternative being considered.

There would have to be “pretty serious rain to not have us to (Fun Day),” he said.

Raven said he will also be interested to see how the fire will affect attendance, and said he hopes the community “will rally around” and use the event to show its solidarity.

A parade kicks off Saturday’s celebration at 9 a.m., from Fat Andy’s on Route 115 to the Village Green. An opening ceremony, where Bob Geyer and Ursula Baier will be presented with the 2013 North Yarmouth Distinguished Citizen awards, will start at 9:30 a.m.

Other events throughout the day include DJ Mixx and karaoke, a diaper derby, somersault races, live music, and games and food. Log onto northyarmouthevents.org for a full schedule.

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

Sidebar Elements

A sign and rubble were all that was left of Wescustogo Hall in North Yarmouth on Friday, Aug. 30, after a fire destroyed the building at 475 Walnut Hill Road (Route 115).

Economic development planning on hold

NORTH YARMOUTH — The first phase of a town center economic development plan has been put on hold because of the Wescustogo Hall fire.

Although funds for the plan were approved by voters in June, a public meeting is now expected to be held within the next six weeks to discuss delaying the plan in light of the loss of the building.

The development plan called for installation of a sidewalk from the fire barn to Wescustogo Hall, along with a path that would lead from the hall to an approximately 70-foot bridge that would span Toddy Brook ravine. A trail would lead from there to Town Hall, tying both sides of the town property together for pedestrian access.

— Alex Lear

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.