Director: Tom Boudin
Director: Zibette Dean
Director: Jarryl Larson
Director: Frank Perkins, Jr.
Director: Roslyn Strong
Director: Tom Tavenner
Picture this: A gorgeous sunny day at Fort Edgecomb in late May, the 21st, if you want to know. Just enough breeze to keep the black flies and mosquitoes at bay. Six easels dot the grounds, with artists in big sun hats working away, here a dash of cadmium red, there a slash of viridian green, while a photographer tries to get a large bird of the hawk persuasion, or perhaps a young eagle? into focus before it spots a likely run of fish and takes off to make its living.
This group of seven artists, the "plein aire" group from Newcastle, led by Becky Shorb of Jefferson and Hanover, PA and Carol Smith of Bristol and Hilton Head, NC, came to paint the portrait of the Fort by special invitation of the Friends of Fort Edgecomb, to celebrate the approaching Bicentennial in June.
Other artists in the group were Kathleen Sutherland of Bath, Penny Markley of Winthrop, Carole Blanton of Walpole, Judith Schuppien of Pittston and Liz Budd of Litchfield. The full plein aire group has several other members from away, not yet here for the season at the time of the event.
The challenge was "Fort Edgecomb, Any Angle, Any Genre, Any Medium." Some of the artists worked in oil, others in watercolors, still others in pastel crayon or gouache. They worked from 9:00 11:30, when they adjourned for a brief critique of the works, before going home for lunch. Comments like "Spring greens are a challenge, so many shades!" or concerns over the geometry of the blockhouse could be heard.
Aside from the landscapes featuring the blockhouse itself, others portrayed the home of Bob and Ann Zak, and outlying views of the Sheepscot River, including a section of the Fort's shoreside retaining wall.
Many of these paintings were on display and offered for sale at the Fort Edgecomb Bicentennial Picnic on Saturday, June 13, - see the report on the left of this page.
The Fort Edgecomb Bicentennial enjoyed the one day of sunshine in over a week! It just goes to show what a really energetic Sun Dance will do for us. In honor of the occasion, Park Manager Jim Davis had raised the 15-star circle American flag, the version in use during the early 1800s when the Fort was active.
We estimate over 80 people came and enjoyed themselves, among our art display, gingerbread noshes, mellow music from the Sheepscot Sounds, and tributes to our armed forces punctuated by the flute of young Benjamin lemme!
We gathered first thing in the morning of June 13 to raise the marquee tent. Tom Blackford with sons Joe Hoyt, Nate Blackford and daughter Maggie Hoyt, experienced tent-erectors, guided the others who included FOFE Tom Boudin, Bruce Cameron and Frank Perkins and son Rick Tibbetts, and members of the Improved Order of Red Men Bruce Farrell and Bruce Remillard, members of the Degree of Pocahontas Beverly and Denise Flagg.
Once the tent was up, the Plein Aire Artists Group of Newcastle moved in with a display of works produced in May's Focus on the Fort event available for sale. Co-leaders of the group were Carole Smith and Becky Shorb. Among the other Bicentennial artists were Liz Budd, Anita Morrissey, Kathleen Sutherland, Penny Markley, Carole Blanton, Judith Schuppien and Jane Curran. Becky Shorb also supplied note cards and little pins made from her rendition of the blockhouse.
Tom Desjardin, Historian for the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, and his wife were among the attendees. We appreciate his efforts to provide us with the extra picnic tables and the speaker's podium with microphone and sound system! To initiate the Grand Muster, the Reverend Bobsy Dudley-Thompson delivered a thoughtful homily on the difficulty and the necessity of establishing peace in the world. She closed with her version of an ancient Scottish prayer: "May the peace of the running waves be with you, may the peace of the quiet earth be with you, may the peace of the silent shining stars be with you, may the peace of the Son of Peace be with you, now and always." State Representative Jonathan McKane graciously delivered a proclamation from Governor Baldacci that June 13, 2009, to known as Fort Edgecomb Bicentennial Day. Bob Raudenbush, Commander of American Legion Post 36 of Boothbay Harbor, Legionnaire Paul Adams and Ed Thibault, the Post's Historian, stood at formal salute during the observance while Friends of Fort Edgecomb Secretary Jo Cameron read off the several conflicts from the present to the past: the current Iraq and Afghanistan conflict, the Gulf War, Viet Nam War, Korean War, World War II.. There was a brief break, then the veterans of World War I, Spanish-American War, Civil War, Mexican War, the War of 1812, and finally, of the American Revolution, were saluted. Each conflict was punctuated by Benjamin Klemme's flute, playing variously "Yankee Doodle" and Beethoven's "Ode to Joy."
Throughout the day the wandering minstrels of the Sheepscot Sound meandered among the celebrators. Their close harmonies drifted down from the upper windows of the blockhouse, and up from the parade ground facing the sparkling Sheepscot River. As the finale of the muster, Messrs. Jim McQuaide, Chuck Parody, A. J. "Larry" Larochelle and Walter Reynolds sang a special "Happy Birthday" tribute to Fort Edgecomb. Guests helped themselves to hotdogs and several varieties of gingerbread, a traditional refreshment served at town militia musters of those early times. Among the gingerbread providers were Gail Boudin, Jarryl Larson, Ros Strong and Jo Cameron.
Copies of Joshua Smith's "Blockhouse and Barricade: A History of Fort Edgecomb" were available for sale, as were souvenir fans featuring a photograph of the blockhouse by the late Paul Boardway, son of the first park manager, Walker Boardway. All in all, the Fort Edgecomb Bicentennial Celebration was a thrilling and gratifying event. I am sure the Fort and its Blockhouse appreciated the festivity, and are standing at attention, ready for another hundred years.