Richmond Town Manager Laurisa Loon delivers a folding table to a gazebo in Fort Richmond Park on the banks of Kennebec River on Friday in Richmond. She said the tables would be used for the next day’s Richmond Nights event. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

RICHMOND — In the eyes of Richmond residents, the annual Richmond Days had to go on.

Called Richmond Nights this year to show it is a somewhat different event, Town Manager Laurisa Loon said she was encouraged by residents to keep the gathering going despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Loon has planned the annual event since 2009. She starts the process in January. Six months ago, whether and how COVID-19 would affect public events in the summer wasn’t yet clear. Around the same time, Loon took over as interim town manager.

“I had so much going on, but a group of residents reached out to me, encouraging me,” she said. “They are a great group and we pulled it together. Without them, I probably wouldn’t have been able to.”

Loon said one couple who urged the continuation of the event, Amanda and Jeremy McDaniel, donated their inflatable movie projector screen on which the movie “Sing” was to be shown Friday night. In years past, the town would have to set up its own equipment.

Richmond Nights will be smaller than the typical Richmond Days, since Loon planned it last minute, wary of the threat of COVID-19. She said Richmond Days will resume next year.

This year, there will not be a parade — nor will there be attractions that were popular in the past, such as a bounce house, a roller rink and a zip line. But Richmond Nights will still have its fair share of activities for the whole family, though they will start later than usual, Loon said. She pointed out that in a normal year, events would start as early as 9 a.m., but this year things kick off around 1 p.m. on Saturday.

Loon said she has attended the event since she was a young girl in the town. Once she started planning it herself, after she began working for the town, she used feedback from her two sons for the kids’ activities.

“It was fun to get their input when they were little,” she said. “They’re all grown up now, but the kids (in Richmond) really do love the events.”

Delta Prime Robotics team mentor Sam Knight sets up a pop-up shelter Friday in Fort Richmond Park on the banks of Kennebec River in Richmond. The team, consisting of members from RSU 2 high schools (Richmond, Monmouth Academy and Hall-Dale) and other area schools, was scheduled to show off some of its competitive robots on Friday evening. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

On Saturday, starting at 1, there will be a petting zoo at Houdlette Field. Family games will be held at the waterfront park from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Among them, Loon said, she has jumbo versions of popular children’s games like “Connect 4” and “Trouble.” Mini golf will start at 5 p.m., and Loon said children can get T-shirts and free flip flops to decorate and take home.

There will be a Firefighters vs. Police softball game and cookout at Lane Field at 10 a.m. At noon, visitors can participate in a cornhole tournament at Two Maine Guys, where prizes of up to $500 can be won. There is a fee of either $50 or $10 to join the cornhole competition, depending on how experienced the player is.

The waterfront will be home to most of the fun, including food trucks, fireworks and live music.

Loon said food options at the waterfront will include Mr. & Mrs. Sausage, the Kabayan food truck, and a fried dough food cart from Steve AuCoin. Shucks Maine Lobster will serve lobster rolls at the cornhole tournament.

The Richmond Fire Department will host a cookout at the softball game, as will the Dresden Fire Department. There will also be a “famous chicken BBQ” at the DRUM church at 6 p.m. At breakfast time on Saturday, the Enterprise Grange will offer free pancakes from 7 – 10 a.m.

A full list of activities can be found on the town’s Facebook Page and website.

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