SKOWHEGAN — The area underground pingpong circuit is set to go public Sunday with a tournament and block party sponsored by a downtown revitalization group.

“The block party is an annual event, but this year we’re making it a pingpong tournament as well,” said Dugan Murphy, executive director of the nonprofit Main Street Skowhegan. “We’re expecting the core group to be people who are in the pingpong circuit, and we’re extending it out to the general public as a fundraising event, so the more the merrier.”

The event at Maine Wood Heat at Northgate Industrial Park, off Route 150, will include all-you-can-eat wood-fired pizza, beer, wine, soft drinks, music and pingpong play, beginning at 2:30 p.m.

Maine Wood Heat, founded by Cheryl and Albie Barden in the 1970s, started making wood-fired ovens with their son Scott in 2000. Those ovens will be used to make the pizza on Sunday, and there will be tours of the plant and showroom, Murphy said.

The cost Sunday is $25 per person, which includes pingpong competition on two tables, one glass of wine or beer and pizza. Registration will begin at 2 p.m. The winner will get a handmade trophy.

For $15, visitors can have the pizza and beverages, but not the pingpong play. Prices are reduced for people under 21.

The pingpong idea came from Lisa Caswell, a member of the Main Street board of directors, whose partner, Scott Price, of Canaan, is active in Skowhegan-area pingpong circles, according to Murphy.

Price, 55, a retired Waterville firefighter, said a core group of about 30 area men and women meets to play pingpong. He said 10 to 15 people show up regularly to play, and competition can last five or six hours each time.

“We meet once a month, either at someone’s house or at Maine Wood Heat, just to play pingpong and drink beer,” he said. “Before this, there were no formal tournaments, just a get-together type of thing. It’s just a hobby thing that people grew up playing. We’re not really good enough to go on to the tournaments. It’s just fun.”

Murphy, who has been director of Main Street Skowhegan for six months, said fundraisers such as Sunday’s pizza-and-pingpong party are an essential part of keeping the organization going.

Money for the $76,000 annual operating budget comes from three general areas, he said. One-third comes from organizational fundraising, events and grant writing, and the other two-thirds come from business membership dues and the town’s downtown tax increment financing district.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

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