DRESDEN — “The weather may dampen us, but not our spirits,” Nancy Call said as visitors walked into Bridge Academy Public Library.

The library held its annual bake, plant and book sale on Saturday, a rainy and overcast day, to kick off Memorial Day weekend.

After last year’s event was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, Call, a substitute librarian, and main librarian Amalia Farel tried to make Saturday morning’s sale one of the largest ones yet, hoping for three times the traffic they would normally see.

And they might have been right — despite the weather. By 10 a.m., the library’s two parking lots were overfilled and visitors were parking on the street. Patrons from near and far stopped in as library volunteers talked about their joy of seeing familiar faces once again.

“Every year we have lived in Dresden we have come to the sale,” said Misty Parker. “We are excited to be seeing people again.”

Parker comes every year for the plant sale. She said she uses the sale to “finish up” her garden after planting bulbs in the winter, leaving the spring sale for when she buys flowers.

Raindrops cling to pansies available to purchase Saturday during the book, bake and flower sale at Bridge Academy Public Library in Dresden. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

According to volunteer Pat Keene, the plant sale attracts a lot of traffic and plants were being sold in a range of prices, starting at $3. People left with their hands full of plants, with Keene adding the annuals were “surprisingly” popular.

Parker tried her way in the raffle, too, putting her name down for “Yard Dice,” an outside game. In the past, she said she has won multiple prizes, including blown glass made by a town artist.

Bridge Academy Public Library had many prizes up for grabs. Raffle and the silent auction items ranged from gift cards to local restaurants and bakeries, a private 30- to 40-minute plane ride, and gas and oil gift cards. Call’s daughter, Mikayla, make cookies to sell and a wood carving of the library to be auctioned off.

Crafts such as necklaces, soaps and quilts were being sold. The quilts were made by people affiliated with the Richmond Area Senior Center and were being sold by Martha Bangs, who was there volunteering with her husband, Glenn Bangs. Together, they have volunteered at the library for nearly 20 years.

“When we first started, it was just a couple of shelves of books,” Glenn Bangs said.

Over the pandemic, Call and Farel worked to organize, reshelf and catalog new books purchased through grants or picked up at the local Goodwill. They said the pandemic made it difficult for people to volunteer, but by the amount of volunteers at the sale Saturday, it would have been tough to tell.

Hall-Dale High School student Karlie Reith, who monitored the raffle table, has volunteered for around a year.

“I like how many things there are to do, I’m always busy,” she said.

Oleg Winokurzew, a Richmond resident, put his name down for Pierce’s Country Store and Red’s Eats gift cards. He hopes to win Red’s Eats so he can take his wife out for lunch.

“Last time we ate at Red’s it was 1966 and it was the only time we ate there,” he said, recalling his haddock sandwich and his wife’s lobster roll. “If I win, it will help me be able to go out again — the second time in nearly 50 years.”

For $2, Winokurzew found a book on art from Russia, the area where his family is from. He said he loves collecting books and has nearly 4,000 to share with his nine children and his grandkids. He comes to the sale every year.

Shoppers browse through books in the basement Saturday during the book, bake and flower sale at Bridge Academy Public Library in Dresden. After having to cancel last year’s event because of the coronavirus pandemic, organizers were hoping for a strong turnout this year, and were not disappointed. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

After reading about the sale in the Kennebec Journal, Maria Magioncallda drove from Augusta to check out the book sale and mainly gravitated toward the cookbooks, which she said she “has enough of” but still loves to look at.

She said she visits different book sales in the area, but it was her first time to Dresden’s.

“There are great books,” she said. “I keep seeing quite a few, then I find some more, but I’m still looking.”

For Amy Barker, the sale served as a way to get back into the community.

For her, the thought of doing the things she loves, like traveling or going to the movie theater, still seems “scary.” The sale was Barker’s first and she sold necklaces she crafted and homemade soaps.

“I just moved here to Dresden in 2019, then the pandemic happened,” she said. “I’m trying to remember how to be human. It’s great seeing everyone.”

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