Organizers of the Winslow Family 4th of July Celebration have submitted a formal proposal to move the decades-old series of events to the neighboring town of Fairfield, where the Town Council on Wednesday will discuss the plan.

The multi-day Winslow festival that includes a large parade and events in Fort Halifax Park has gone on for the past 26 years, but in recent times organizers have struggled with fundraising with the festival typically costing between $50,000 and $60,000. The event, which has drawn upwards of 70,000 people — roughly 10 times the population of Winslow — to the area in the past, has also been logistically difficult for public safety officials.

Fairfield Town Manager Michelle Flewelling said Monday that the organizers have submitted a formal proposal to the town for the festival, which she said has been sent to various department heads for questions and comments. She said she has already started receiving some comments from the departments, mostly surrounding traffic implications, event locations and starting and ending points for the parade.

“It’s like a new beginning, and I think it’s a great step in the right direction for the community of Fairfield, for the Fourth of July and for the celebration,” said Kevin Douglass, chairman of the Winslow Family 4th of July Committee.

Flewelling said local public safety officials have not had a chance to weigh in yet.

“When that is completed, it will go back to the council as one big package,” Flewelling said.


Flewelling said the council is continuing the conversation, and it is too early to tell if the proposal has support from both council and municipal staff.

The council is slated to hold a workshop to discuss the festival, which includes a parade through town, live music, contests and fireworks, during its Wednesday meeting, which starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Community Center.

Flewelling said the council has discussed the Fourth of July issue before, including at the last council meeting where they held a workshop discussion and received the organizers’ proposal. She said the council also discussed the issue in the spring, when the topic at the time was the possibility of holding the festival at Mill Island Park.

However, Flewelling said this venue would have access problems, so the organizers were asked to propose other locations.

This is not the first time Fairfield has been listed as a possible alternative venue for the festival. In 2015, organizers discussed moving the event to Fairfield, and Douglass met with town officials on the matter a handful of times, but those talks at the time stalled.

This past year, the event’s prospects were thrown into question over an impasse concerning costs for police coverage with organizers saying that an initial $11,000 estimated cost was too high. Those worries were quelled after law enforcement officials from area police departments and the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office agreed to pitch in to help Winslow police officers cover the festivities.


The event moved to Winslow after a disastrous alcohol-fueled celebration at Head of Falls in Waterville in 1990, in which a couple hundred intoxicated partiers jumped up and down on the Two Cent Bridge until part of it broke and four police officers were injured amid confrontations with people.

Douglass said organizers settled on Fairfield as a new location for the festival because it offers more space for events that can be restructured and more fun overall.

Fairfield and Winslow are separated by a few miles. The town does host the Greater Fairfield Chocolate Festival the Saturday before Valentine’s Day. That festival is held in the Fairfield Community Center on Water Street and draws between 600 and 800 people.

Flewelling said the organizers’ plan said they would “scale back” the Fourth of July celebration, as there “is still some question as to how it would actually play out.” The events would likely occur in a handful of places around town, including the Police Athletic League sports fields as well as Monument Park, which is next to the library.

Douglass said event organizers want to focus more on what the event stands for, such as honoring servicemen and women who have sacrificed for this country as well as honoring the nation’s birth. He said the restructuring will help get them “back to basics, back to what it’s all about.”

“It’d be much more community-oriented. A whole lot more nonprofits would be involved so more organizations can benefit from this event and can grow with this event,” Douglass said.


Over the years, he said, participation from nonprofits had dwindled, and this move would be a way to bring them back and to have more community involvement. He said the new festival would also have more activities for children, while at the same time remaining free to the public. He said it was unlikely they would look to stay in Winslow because the size of Fort Halifax Park was a problem. He said it was time they were “moving on.”

“I think those are all steps in the right direction,” he said.

The event will hopefully feel like an Old Home Days celebration, Douglass said, which are annual celebrations usually held in early summer in New England towns. He said with more children’s activities and greater community involvement, the celebration will have “more of that small hometown feel.”

“I think they’ll be quite surprised of the feel and look of the event,” he said.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

Twitter: @colinoellis

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