Although the annual Spring Alewife Festival in Damariscotta Mills was canceled in order to conform with COVID-19 guidelines, the festival committee is still raffling a locally designed and crafted queen-sized alewife festival quilt, according to a news release from the Fish Ladder Festival Committee.

The quilt was pieced by Betty Lu Brydges and machine quilted by Lynn Vogt. It includes silk-screened designs drawn by local artists for festival goods and gear imprints in previous years. Proceeds from the raffle will be used for essential repairs to the public access to the Fish Ladder and the community’s new “Bridge the Gap” campaign. One of the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder Restoration Committee’s goals is to raise funds to replace the aging foot bridge that spans the pools. Local historian George Weston estimates that the foot bridge was first built in the early 1950s.

Only 700 tickets will be sold. The winning ticket will be drawn at the end of September or at a chowder festival, if the committee is able to hold one in September or early October.

To purchase an alewife festive quilt raffle tickets, visit damariscottamills.org/quilt-raffle-post or call Alewife Festival chairman David Brydges by at 207-832-1790.

Individual quilt squares are also available for purchase for those who wish to create their own table-runner, placemats or pillows. Squares are $15 each including shipping, handling, tax and online transaction charges. Orders for the multiple squares of the same style and color in a single transaction are available, to place an order, visit damariscottamills.org/fish-goods-gear-order-qs.

Those missing their 2020 Festival T-Shirt or need to purchase a new hat, 2020 Festival T-Shirts in multiple sizes and colors and fish ladder caps can be ordered online at damariscottamills.org/fish-goods-gear.

According to the release, the fish ladder in Damariscotta Mills has been in operation for more than 200 years. Built in 1807 by the combined efforts of the towns of Newcastle and Nobleboro, the fish ladder was constructed to allow alewives to bypass the mills blocking the falls between Damariscotta Lake and Salt Bay.

The numbers are in for 2020. This year with the restoration of the fish ladder and upgrades to the harvesting equipment 1,069,488 alewives passed into Damariscotta Lake to spawn. It’s just great to get more than one million—it’s always been our goal since the restoration began. It was an interesting year — the fish came in late and stayed late but they did their job.

The viewing spot over the fish ladder never gets old, but the bridge has seen better days. It was built some time during the 1950s and it has served well. While it sees a lot of traffic all year long, May and June bring the largest crowds of fish lovers who come to see the alewives running. Engineering studies to determine how and how much it will cost to “Bridge the Gap” are underway.

Help support the on-going community based rebuild efforts of the fish ladder that began in 2007, annual maintenance of the restored portions of the fish ladder and current viewing bridge rebuild project by purchasing your Fish Ladder Quilt raffle ticket. For more information, fish ladder updates and festival information, go to damariscottamills.org.

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