OAKLAND — Each August Waterville hosts the Taste of Waterville, drawing thousands of visitors to the city. Nearby Winslow does the same with the Winslow Family 4th of July.

Now, Oakland’s new town manager wants an annual event to draw crowds to his rural community.

“Now, it’s Oakland’s turn,” Town Manager Gary Bowman said. “I think Oakland is in a position to really start enjoying itself.”

With the goal of developing a sustainable annual event that excites residents, promotes quality of life and generates traffic for Oakland businesses, Bowman is appointing a 12-member committee to govern special events in the town.

“This isn’t a new idea. This is something that’s been working for communities all over the state and in other states,” Bowman said. “It’s going to be so satisfying to see something like that take off and go here.”

Bowman would not say what theme the events committee might choose for Oakland, but said the committee will be responsible for establishing and organizing an annual summer event as well as making a fundraising schedule to ensure it’s sustainable.

To date, the committee still has eight openings with Bowman serving as a member. Bowman met last week with the Oakland Lions Club, which he said has experience hosting events.

Other duties assigned to the committee include organizing and scheduling events for the planned gazebo at the Oakland Boat Landing.

According to organizer Gene Roy, that project is off to a slow start. With the goal of raising $10,000, Roy said Monday he has raised less than $1,000 after two months of work.

“The donations have been coming in pretty slow. We’re trying to do it with lots of little donations so that everybody feels they’re buying into this thing,” he said. “They’ll have ownership in it, and they’ll keep an eye on it, because there’s always a problem with vandals and damage.”

While town employees have already cleared the site for the gazebo, Roy plans to have the floor constructed before winter weather sets in so the gazebo can be enlarged from 24 feet to 30 feet.

Roy said he hopes building trades students at Messalonskee High School will cut and prepare the gazebo components for assembly.

“I had this vision a long time ago when we first built that park, but it never went anywhere,” he said. “What I was hoping for was like summer concerts, so people could sit in the grass and listen or be in their boats.”

The gazebo could also generate revenue with the town renting it out for weddings and other events, Roy said.

Anyone wishing to donate toward the gazebo project should mail a check to the Oakland Town Office at Post Office Box 187, Oakland, ME 04963. They should specify that the check is for the gazebo project.

Evan Belanger — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @ebelanger


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