PITTSFIELD — The town is taking a trip into the past and looking toward the future, as plans come together for Pittsfield’s bicentennial celebration in 2019.

The Somerset County town of about 4,000 people will turn 200 years old next year, and an ad hoc committee has been hard at work planning a string of events that will commence with a Dec. 5 opening ceremony and stretch at least into the summer of 2019.

Resident Jan Laux said he’s been leading the roughly 20-person bicentennial committee since the planning started about a year and a half ago.

“To celebrate 200 years is a pretty significant thing for a community to do,” Laux said.

The town website includes a tentative bicentennial calendar that lists the opening ceremony on Dec. 5, a winterfest event in February, an art show in April, a historical tour in May, a primary week of bicentennial events the week of June 19, a quilt show in August, a farm-to-table event in October and a closing ceremony next December.

Laux said the committee plans to make several announcements about the bicentennial programming during the 6 p.m. tree lighting ceremony Dec. 5 in Hathorn Park. He stressed that the schedule for the coming year is still tentative, and that the main celebration will take place around June 19.

“That particular week there will be a lot of activities,” he said, mentioning the opening of a time capsule and a possible community breakfast. Laux also noted that the bicentennial is geared not just toward the past, but the town’s future as well.

“We’re doing something a bit different,” Laux said. “We’re focusing as much on Pittsfield in the future.”

Town Manager Kathryn Ruth said “people are enthused” about the bicentennial and that the festivities will not only look back at the town’s past, but also “celebrate the present and the future.”

The town sees the bicentennial as an economic development opportunity, Ruth said, noting that the $25,000 in town funding approved for the effort by the Pittsfield Town Council came from an economic development account.

“It’s exciting,” Ruth said, saying the festivities provide a chance for Pittsfield to showcase itself and potentially attract new people to town.

Town Councilor Howie Margolskee, the council’s liaison to the bicentennial committee, called his involvement “a way to give back to the town that readily accepted me 30 years ago.”

“This can be a significant boost to the economy if we do it right,” Margolskee said, stressing the significant amount of volunteer work going into the planning. “I think the council is excited about it.”

Along with the municipal support, Laux said the bicentennial is receiving support from the local business community, including consulting firm Kleinschmidt and construction services company Cianbro.

Nancy Monteyro, owner of PoponOvers cafe and baked goods on Main Street, has high hopes for the celebration and expects her business to be involved as well.

“We love Pittsfield. We love the resources it has to offer,” said Monteyro, who grew up in town and has owned and operated the business for a year.

Monteyro, who wants to make a “great big cake” for the festivities, said the bicentennial is about “showing people that Pittsfield is a great community to live in.”

According to the town website, the town was incorporated first as the town of Warsaw in 1819, when Maine was still part of Massachusetts. The name was changed to Pittsfield in 1824 in honor of landowner William Pitts, according to Sanger Mills Cook’s 1966 book, “Pittsfield on the Sebasticook.” As part of the bicentennial efforts, committee member Jane Woodruff wrote a new book titled “Pittsfield Then & Now.”

Laux expects a “couple different kinds of historical tours” as part of the programming, along with the display of some of the town’s historical items currently housed in the old railroad depot building now home to the Pittsfield Historical Society. Laux cited an upcoming depot renovation and plans for a new town boat launch as developments to be celebrated in town.

“Hopefully it will generate a little excitement in town,” Laux said about the bicentennial. “It really is thinking about our future.”

Both Laux and Ruth emphasized that the bicentennial is a group effort between the town, local businesses, schools and other groups — and that the details are still coming together.

“They’re still working on the schedule for the events,” Ruth said about the committee.

Bicentennial license plates, hats and shirts are being sold at the Town Office.

“It’s just starting up,” committee member Barbara Denaro said.

Fellow committee member Michael LeBlanc said he has lived in town for about eight years.

“Every year, I find more to like about Pittsfield,” he said.

Denaro said it provides an opportunity for the town to re-brand, and LeBlanc hoped that some of the bicentennial programming can turn into annual events.

“All I can say is, it’s rolling along,” Laux said.

Matt Junker — 861-9253

[email protected]

Twitter: @mattjunker

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