HALLOWELL — Gov. Paul LePage took drink orders, pulled beer taps to fill plastic glasses and exchanged handshakes with patrons Monday night as he worked behind the long bar at the Quarry Tap Room.

LePage is the latest and one of the highest profile guest bartenders at the bar which helps raise money for various charities.

On Monday, a dollar from each drink sale went to the Travis Mills Foundation, a nonprofit organization aimed at aiding combat-injured veterans. There were donation jars amid trays of food. Many people tried to include a shot of the governor in their selfies and videos and sent Snapchats of the event.

Mills of Manchester, who lost his arms and legs to an improvised explosive device on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan, was guest bartender last month at the Quarry and was expected to arrive later Monday night after doing a similar bartending stint at the Sea Dog Brewery in South Portland.

Usually LePage’s wife, Ann, champions veterans’ causes, but Monday night LePage did his bit, wearing a black Quarry Tap Room T-shirt. Ann LePage sat at the bar, and her husband occasionally leaned over to try to tell her something or to take an order from those standing next to her. Asked how her husband was doing as guest bartender, she didn’t hesitate: “He’s doing great.”

LePage’s son Paul Jr., a licensed bartender, was behind the bar helping out his dad.

The standing-room-only crowd packed into every inch of floor space and spilled out into a covered patio area. For a while, some people had to wait to enter until others left.

The noise of the friendly crowd made conversation almost impossible except at high volume.

“We came to see the governor,” said Robin Bonn of Litchfield, as she and her husband, William, both of whom served in the U.S. Navy, sat on a bench under one of the front windows. “We got to see him, but we haven’t said ‘hey’ to him yet.”

“I got to say hi to the first lady,” she said. “She’s such a sweet lady.”

In fact, Ann LePage served the Bonns cheese from a large platter when she took a turn navigating the crowded room to serve hors d’oeuvres to customers.

Chris Vallee, one of the Quarry Tap Room owners, tried to direct people into a line so they could order drinks, but it was almost impossible. “Who wants a drink from the governor?” he asked, getting a loud cheer in response. “He’ll pour whatever you want. He’ll take good care of you.”

Vallee also auctioned off several blue commemorative license plates with bidding starting at $500 and all proceeds benefiting the foundation.

State Rep. Martin J. Grohman, D-Biddeford, showed off the “Mills” plate he won with a $700 bid. “I’m going to hang it on the wall, or I might keep it on my desk.” Grohman is a member of the Legislature’s Criminal Justice Committee & Public Safety Committee.

“I got a drink and a handshake,” said Bob Ibeneme of Hallowell, showing off the cellphone photo of the moment. He said he ordered a Captain and Coke, and the other bartenders helped guide LePage to the correct ingredients.

Rick Bowden, 59, of Augusta parked a beer for himself and a Coke for his designated driver atop a wall near the bar entrance. He said he came to the event after hearing about it on the radio.

Bowden said he was a homeless veteran when he came to Maine from Boston six years ago. “Now I have my own apartment.”

One of the Travis Mills Foundation efforts is the Maine Chance Lodge & Retreat in Mount Vernon and Rome, which was depicted in a mural on the front window of the Quarry. A portrait of Mills dominated the other window.

Lynn Harvey, the Foundation’s executive director, said the retreat for combat-injured veterans and their families is scheduled to welcome its first guests July 2. “We’re just hoping for an early spring,” she said.

Alice Buck, grandmother of Travis Mills’ wife Kelsey, came early to check out the crowd attracted by the governor. “I came because he’s giving his donation to Travis,” she said. “I want to see how many people come.”

Kelsey’s father, Craig Buck, was there as well.

Roger Pomerleau of Hallowell arrived early for the event. “My job in my business is government relations,” Pomerleau said. “I’m going to be where Republicans and Democrats and independents gather.”

“The Travis Mills Foundation is a tremendous foundation and obviously the governor is here, so I can’t pass up the opportunity,” said Tyler LeClair, an assistant district attorney in Augusta.

As people continued to file in through the door, George Stanley of Greene paced the sidewalk in front of the Quarry holding up a hand-printed sign and said he was protesting the governor’s appearance there.

Other politicians have tried their hand as guest bartenders at the Quarry recently, including Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap and state Rep. Matthew Pouliot, R-Augusta. Mills too was guest bartender at the Quarry recently. Next week, Vallee said, will be Zachary Fowler of Appleton, who won the History Channel series “Alone” after surviving 87 days in the Patagonia region of South America.

While LePage was scheduled to work at the Quarry fundraiser from 6 to 7:30 p.m., a separate event held from 6 to 8 p.m. across the street at the Liberal Cup raised money for Go Big for Hunger, an organization that supports frontline groups feeding hungry Maine kids and helping them develop self-reliance.

The fundraiser was organized by musician Sam Shain, who with his group the Scolded Dogs, was to perform at the Quarry. However, in a posting on Facebook, Shain said the appearance was canceled after he told Quarry owners that he intended to make a statement during the performance. He said the Quarry owners wanted to keep politics out of the event. Instead, Shain and Tim Sullivan and others played at the Liberal Cup where there was a little more room to move around.

Part of Shain’s statement, which he also posted on Facebook, says, “I simply ask Governor LePage, Republican and Democratic politicians all over to consider truly becoming public servants, as Governor LePage was tonight serving beer, by passing on (a) tax break for people who have plenty and consider using taxes to help feed, house, educate, and provide healthcare for people in poverty, elderly, disabled, mentally ill, and veterans who really need our help collectively.”

The Liberal Cup was accepting donations for the Travis Mills Foundation on Monday evening as well.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

filed under:

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.