Southern Aroostook Agricultural Museum

17 years ago

The Historical Pavilion celebrated its 15th year at the Northern Maine Fair and Music Festival this year. The Pavilion had more than 25 exhibits, representing historical societies and private collections from throughout Aroostook County. The Pavilion was held for three days, from July 30-Aug. 2, in The Forum, and was supported by a grant from the Maine Humanities Council and the sponsorship of Kentucky Fried Chicken/Taco Bell.     “Getting the displays has been more of a challenge in recent years,” said Kevin McCartney, co-chair of the Historical Pavilion, “as some of the societies have increasingly aging memberships.”
This year, three private companies, Maine Public Service, The Star-Herald and Cook Florist participated by displaying the history of their companies.
“I will be aggressively seeking more companies next year who are interested in displaying their history at the pavilion since I feel that many other businesses in Aroostook County have a long and interesting history that they would love to share with us,” said Carol Bell, co-chair.
The Pavilion and the Fair in general, are also working to attract more displays from the St. John Valley. The Madawaska Historical Society had a large display area at the entrance to the Pavilion that included a 28-foot bateau boat. The Bateau caught your eye the minute you walked into The Forum and was such a hit that it won the “Best Individual Artifact” award at the Historical Pavilion.
The prestigious “Best Exhibit” award this year went to the Southern Aroostook Agricultural Museum. Their exhibit this year included a display of wooden toys all handmade by their members. The toys were a hit with both young and old from the sailboats made out of walnut shells to the “Torpedo” that blew up a ship using a cleverly hidden mousetrap.
“The award given to the Southern Aroostook Agricultural Museum is well deserved,” said McCartney, “as the museum has every year had an imaginative display of working devices from bygone times.”
The “Best Living History Display” went to the Presque Isle Historical Society for a display of live models in period costumes. The models – Kim Smith, Charlene Mayne and Elizabeth Wright – would freeze in a pose for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, without moving a muscle.
“They were so realistic that several people stopped to look at the ‘mannequins’ and commented on how real they looked,” said Bell. “In fact, they were so convincing that several people were completely startled when they did move and would let out a scream that could be heard throughout the pavilion.”
Other living history displays included barrel maker Hugh McHatten, wood carver Tom Cote with several apprentices, herbalist Natalia Bragg and many knitters, quilters, spinners and tatters.
The exhibit given the “Most Knowledgeable Staff” award was the Nylander Museum and the “Best Car, Truck or Tractor” award went to Fred Haines for his Beardmore taxicab.
One learning opportunity for the Pavilion participants this year was the potential of having letterbox sites at the historical societies. A letterbox consists of a stamp and notebook that visitors can use. Letterbox visitors have their own stamps and notebooks and use the site stamp in their books to show their travels and also use their stamp to “sign” into the site book. Stamps and books were provided by Staples for those societies and organizations that had a physical structure for visitors.
“We hope that this will increase tourist visit to our historical societies,” said McCartney.