Washburn festival will honor local vet and Wade couple

8 months ago

Washburn will unveil a monument to a decorated World War II veteran during its 42nd annual August Festival next week.

U.S. Army veteran Edward C. Dahlgren, a Perham native and Medal of Honor recipient who died in 2006, will be honored with an engraved stone at the town’s Veterans Park.

The festival packs the town every year as people from New England and beyond return to see family, friends and classmates. The event takes place from Friday, Aug. 18, to Sunday, Aug. 20.

The Dahlgren monument is the latest addition to the park, which opened in 2018 when three Eagle Scouts completed it as their service projects. Last year a memorial brick walkway opened and another Eagle Scout added five flagpoles to represent each military branch. 

It was high time to recognize Dahlgren, one of only five Medal of Honor recipients from Aroostook County, said Larry Harrison, U.S. Air Force veteran and longtime Washburn Scoutmaster.

“I just got thinking we needed to honor Edward. He really went through a lot,” Harrison said. “But he really hasn’t had any recognition other than there is a street named after him in Caribou.”

The unveiling will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19. Dahlgren’s Medal of Honor citation will be read and about 70 new walkway tiles will be dedicated, Harrison said.

Dahlgren received the Medal of Honor from President Harry Truman for actions in 1945 in Oberhoffen, France. He heroically attacked German soldiers and saved his platoon, according to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.

U.S. Army veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Edward C. Dahlgren is the subject of “In the Shadow of a Mountain,” about his struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in World War II. The book was written by his daughter, Susan Dahlgren Daigneault. (Courtesy of Larry Harrison)

He worked for many years as a potato inspector, Harrison said. Dahlgren suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder when he returned home, and his daughter, Susan Dahlgren Daigneault, wrote the book “In the Shadow of a Mountain” about his struggles.

The monument was paid for by donations and Veterans Park upkeep funds, Harrison said. Some of Dahlgren’s family members are expected to attend the ceremony. 

The Washburn Rotary Club is coordinating the festival, which will have crafters, live music, demonstrations, food and events for all ages, said Rotarian Cindy Richendollar. 

In what has become a popular tradition, a local couple will preside as festival king and queen. The recognition rotates among Washburn, Perham and Wade residents, she said. Dwayne and Lynn Dow of Wade are this year’s honored couple.   

“They are so much fun. They belong to the tractor club, the ham radio club and more,” Richendollar said. “They have a commitment to their community, their church and their family.”

Dwayne Dow was born in Washburn and grew up on the family farm in Wade, she said. He worked with his brothers at TL Dow Painting and then was at Standard Shoe in Presque Isle for 22 years. He served in the Army National Guard for nine years, and also farmed and worked at Marden’s.

He was a Wade selectman for six years, a Boy Scout leader and trustee at Camp Nomacca, Richendollar said. He enjoys woodworking, fishing, hunting and cooking.

Born at Loring Air Force Base, Lynn Dow grew up in Caribou. She worked as a pharmacy technician for 24 years, and for the last 24 years she has continued that job at Northern Light A.R. Gould Hospital in Presque Isle, Richendollar said.

She serves as an election clerk in Wade and enjoys cross stitch and jigsaw puzzles. 

The Dows have a son, Tony, and a daughter, Kimberly, along with eight grandchildren and 10, soon to be 11, great-grandchildren, Richendollar said. 

As king and queen, the couple will help lead the parade, along with grand marshal Meredith Hews Messer.

Hews Messer is the daughter of Dana Hews of Crouseville. She teaches math at Camden Hills Regional High School and lives in Rockport with her husband Marty and children Charlotte, Casey and Quincy.

A 1990 Washburn District High School graduate, she played basketball, soccer, softball and volleyball, and was on Washburn’s 1988 and 1989 Class D State Championship girls basketball teams.

The annual Washburn Alumni Banquet will take place Friday evening Aug. 18, along with a street dance and family outdoor movie.  

The festival parade will start at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 19.

Saturday will also feature crafts, an antique car show, quilt exhibition, cornhole, kite flying, kids games, Washburn Fire Department supper and live music. Antique tractor pulls, pickleball and a flag retirement ceremony are planned Sunday, Aug. 20.

The Salmon Brook Historical Society museum will be open throughout the event. The WWII traveling museum will display behind Veterans Park.

For a complete schedule and details, visit the Washburn August Festival or Washburn Rotary Club Facebook page.  To volunteer, contact the town office at 455-8485.