A Saturday night Brew Fest at Somerset Abbey, an events hall in Madison, is among several events planned for this weekend in Anson and Madison as part of the 39th annual Madison-Anson Days.

“We were looking to do something that would have a good draw, so we decided to pursue this,” said Stacy O’Brien, co-owner of the Abbey with her husband, Tom. “We’re looking forward to the festivities and to celebrating the Kennebec River this year.”

The theme of this year’s festival is “Celebrating the Kennebec River,” something that the Madison-Anson Days Committee picked as a tribute to the body of water separating the two towns.

The celebration originated as Father Rasle Days, marking the death of Jesuit priest and missionary Sebastian Rasle, who was killed along with 80 members of the Abnaki Indian tribe by British soliders in August 1724 in what is now Madison.

“The river is an important part of our industry, especially with Madison Paper right here in town,” said Lisa LaChance, chairwoman of the Madison-Anson Days Committee.

Several events are planned for Thursday through Sunday, although a handful, including a movie night and a family triathalon, had to be canceled because of a lack of volunteers.

“We’ve been having a lot of trouble getting volunteers,” LaChance said. “I put it out there on Facebook, but nobody is responding. It’s frustrating.”

Despite the cancellations, LaChance said there are many events to look forward to, including a sold-out Paint Night at Somerset Abbey, and the Brew Fest.

On Thursday at 10 a.m. there will be a summer safety program for children put on by the county sheriff’s office, the Madison Highway Department and Madison Electric Works at the Dillon Family Park, behind the Madison Town Office.

A sidewalk craft show, 5-kilometer road race and chili cook-off also are planned for Thursday. There will be a bicycle race starting at 10 a.m. Friday from the Weston Avenue ice rink, a lobster bake hosted by the American Legion from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Maple Street and an outdoor concert at 7 p.m. Friday featuring Borderline Express at the Main Street Playground.

In keeping with this year’s theme, the Madison Historical Society will host an open house and exhibit on the history of the Kennebec River from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Old Point Avenue School. Photos of logging and ice making along the river and a display of tools used for ice cutting will be exhibited. A parade will take place at 10 a.m. starting from Garrett Schenck School in Anson and running down Main Street in Madison.

The Brew Fest is scheduled for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday at Somerset Abbey.

The cost is $10 for advance tickets, available at Pizzarama in Madison, and $15 at the door. Admission pays for five 5-ounce samples from local breweries and a commemorative beer glass.

Lauren Crosby will provide live music.

“People are really, really excited about (the Brew Fest) and have been talking about it,” LaChance said.

Participating breweries include Allagash Brewing Co., of Portland; Bigelow Brewery Co., of Skowhegan; Oak Pond Brewing Co., also of Skowhegan; Tree Spirits, of Oakland; Ricker’s Hard Cider, of Turner; and others.

Since it opened in April in the former Madison Congregational Church, the abbey has tried to focus on selling local beer and wine, according to O’Brien.

“Hopefully it’s something that will help local people decide if they want to try these brews,” she said. “I think people tend to get stuck in a routine with what they drink, and this is an opportunity to try something new and support local business.”

Volunteers are still needed for Thursday’s 5-kilometer road race at Madison Area Junior High School. Interested persons can contact LaChance through the Madison Anson Days Facebook page or by calling the Town Office at 696-5622.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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