DRESDEN — Young and old gathered to play games that were likewise both young and old, Sunday at the Pownalborough Court House in the return of Dresden Summerfest.

The annual gathering, canceled last summer due to the coronavirus pandemic, drew several dozen participants Sunday. Many visitors took part in 18th-century games taught to them by living history reenactors.

Games included both current and 18th-century versions of tug of war. A team of Dresden firefighters easily out-pulled a group made up of reenactors and other attendees in the more well-known modern version of tug of war, pulling their foes, with both sides clutching onto a section of rope, over the middle line.

Reb Manthey, of Benton, with the Colonial Maine Living History Association, fared better in what she said was the more historical version of tug of war, which pits two individuals, each standing on their own pieces of upright log and tugging on opposite ends of a piece of rope while trying to pull the other off or gain control of the rope. She along with a volunteer firefighter each took one round in their two-round battle atop cutoff sections of logs.

It’s not as simple as it may sound, as Manthey noted the long section of rope, and need to balance on the log, make it more than the test of brute strength of the modern version.

“Life (in the 18th century) took a lot of cunning and planning and things like that, so most all 18th century games have elements beyond brute strength,” said Manthey, who took part in bare feet and in clothing appropriate for the time period.

Eight-year-old Luna Pease, of Richmond, and her adult partner, Sonia Lilly, of Dresden, won the egg toss contest, in which participants pair up to throw an egg back and forth between them, at increasingly long distances, with teams getting knocked out when their egg broke.

The game was played on grass, which master of ceremonies Peter Walsh, of Dresden, noted provided a nice cushion that prevented many eggs from breaking even when they weren’t successfully caught by participants.

Luna said she didn’t know what their secret was to win the lighthearted competition, and Lilly joked that “not catching it much” helped, as many times the eggs didn’t burst when they landed on the grass, anyway.

Lilly said the annual event provides a good chance for the community to gather together, see old friends, and meet new people as well.

One game, run by Dresden firefighters, had kids using a garden hose to spray at a wooden cutout of a home, with folding pieces of wood in the windows representing fire. Participants would aim water at the “fire” to knock them down as if they were putting out a real blaze.

Eve Lavallee, 6, of Richmond, said “that fire is going out!” and gripped the hose, immediately putting out most of the “fire” in the windows, other than one stubborn one that stuck even as she walked closer and closer to it. It eventually came down as she kept the hose aimed on it.

She said the best part of the day’s activities was spending time with her friends there.

Eve’s brother, Kingston, 11, toured the Pownalborough Court House, which was open Sunday, where he said he liked the displays of tools including equipment used to cut and move ice.

All eyes are on Emily Dalton Sunday as she catches an egg during the toss at the Dresden Summer Fest in Dresden. Dalton and her best friend, Courtany Hanley came in third in the contest. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

Other activities at Dresden Summerfest included live music, reenactor demonstrations, goats in a petting zoo, caricature drawing, balloon animals, a used book sale, and free snow cones for kids as well as sales of baked goods and hot dogs and burgers grilled by firefighters.

The event was hosted by Lincoln County Historical Association, a non-profit group that oversees three historic properties in the county including the site of Sunday’s events, the historic 1761 Pownalborough Court House, the only surviving courthouse in Maine built during the Colonial period.

 

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