Topsham begins year-long 250th anniversary on New Year's Eve

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TOPSHAM — The town’s year-long 250th birthday celebration starts with a New Year’s Eve bonfire at the Topsham Fairgrounds.

Music and sleigh rides will begin at 8 p.m., with fireworks to follow at 9 p.m. Hot cocoa will be served at the gathering, in front of the Exhibition Hall.

Two products are also being sold for the sestercentennial, with proceeds going to the Topsham 250 steering committee to fund other events throughout 2014. A calendar showcasing historic photos, the result of work by the Topsham Historical Society and a donation from the Highlands retirement community, is available at the town clerk’s office for $15.

A commemorative coin will go on sale at the New Year’s Eve event. The front recreates a painting of the Bowdoin Mill by Vivian Wixon of Topsham, while the town seal is on the back. Two hundred coins will be made, and chances to win the first will be raffled off. The coins can be purchased for $12 each, or inside a velvet pouch or plastic encasement for $15.

Other events scheduled throughout 2014 include a Celtic festival on May 16, to celebrate Topsham’s Scottish-Irish history. The show, at the Orion Performing Arts Center at Mt. Ararat Middle School, will feature Irish fiddlers, Scottish dancers, and the Maine Public Safety Pipe & Drum Corps. The Squid Jiggers, an Irish folk duo, will be the main act.

A core event will be held at the Fairgrounds July 18-20, similar to Topsham’s three-day celebration in July 1964 of its 200th anniversary as an incorporated town. A 5K road race, firemen’s muster, old-fashioned barn dance, Head of Tide Park celebration, Civil War re-enactment and quilter’s festival are planned for that weekend.

Events still in the planning stages include historic house and cemetery walks, as well as a garden tour. The historical society will also host a series of lectures throughout the year at the Topsham Public Library.

The steering committee is encouraging residents, organizations, clubs and other groups that want to host or sponsor events to come under the umbrella of the committee, which will ultimately promote all of the events.

Log onto the committee’s Facebook page, “Topsham, Maine 250th Celebration,” and its website,, to find out more, get in touch with 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.