VASSALBORO — They swooped into the mill Sunday, donning witch, princess, and pixie costumes, a colorful cast of characters from science fiction and fantasy novels or the movies.

There was Spiderman, Batman, Captain America, Wonder Woman, Wolverine and people of all ages dressed as Transformers.

“It’s a science and fiction festival for nerds. We call it the nerd Super Bowl,” said Mike Huard, a novelist from Fairfield who organized the event. “It’s the weekend between NFL and the Super Bowl, so everyone can gather and have a good time — lots of games and Maine-made, geeky and nerdy characters and cosplay characters dressed up to the nines.”

Hundreds of people from all over Maine, and some from New Hampshire and Massachusetts, turned out for the all-day Maine Sci-Fi & Fantasy Nerd Fest, at which they played games, including “Dungeons & Dragons,” “Big Bang Theory” trivia, “Game of Thrones” trivia, padded weapons fighting and games from Waterville’s Drip City Arcade Bar.

“A nerd is just someone that enjoys a lot of fantasy,” Huard said. “They enjoy the escape of fantasy, they enjoy the mysterious world of science fiction and they like getting together with fellows of similar interest in a fun, partylike environment.”

Two years ago, the event was at the Fairfield Community Center but had to be postponed last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Huard, who has written 10 science fiction novels over the past seven years and was selling his books at a table inside the mill.


His latest work is a trilogy called the “Crones Series,” a fantasy series he sells on Amazon.

In the old, large mill on Main Street, people were selling an eclectic array of items, including jewelry, colorful rocks, fantasy-themed face masks, key chains, pottery, food, swords and even “afterlife dolls,” which are ghoulish looking with braided hair and black circles around their eyes.

Jayla Jandreau, 11, of Clinton wears her handmade mask Sunday of the character Lavender as she passes through the Maine Sci-Fi & Fantasy Nerd Fest in Vassalboro. Jandreau says she used cardboard, wire and plastic to create the mask. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

In one room, characters were invited to spar with long sticks that had protective foam attached to the ends, in a contest called “Chanbara.”

Dressed as the “Harry Potter” series character, Hermione and Xeno from “Star Trek”, respectively, Amanda Lind and Rena Kalmon, both 28 and from Augusta, indulged in the sparring event as an audience watched. They said afterward it was fun and they were enjoying the event in general.

Lind and Kalmon said they are members of Waterville Young Professionals, a group that meets and finds things to do in the area.

“I think this is fun,” Kalmon said. “I’m glad there are lots of people in costumes.”


Bruce LaPlante of Fairfield wears a “Pokémon”-inspired costume Sunday during the Maine Sci-Fi & Fantasy Nerd Fest in Vassalboro. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Jillian Thompson, 23, of Oakland was floating about the mill while wearing a puffy yellow dress peppered with sparkles. Her curly, red hair framed a cherubic face and brilliant blue eyes.

“I’m Anastasia, a Disney princess from years ago,” Thompson said. “I grew up with her and I have a very strong love for Disney princesses.”

Samantha Lessard, who manages the mill and was dressed as a fairy, said the event was so popular that by 11 a.m., 200 to 250 people had come through the doors. The mill features an indoor lawn sale and hosts other festivals, including Vassalboro Community Days in September, the Easter Festival in the spring, a Halloween celebration and a paranormal festival.

“I was excited when they asked to have this event here,” Lessard said. “It’s great publicity for the mill. The mill kind of is community supporting community. That’s been my thought for a long time.”

Lessard said some people refer to the mill as the Olde Mill Place, but the latter actually is a gift shop next to the mill, on the mill property.

Ray Breton owns the facility, the former American Woolen Mill.

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