The Hallowell Community Band rides down Water Street during the city’s Old Hallowell Day parade in July 2018. The daylong celebration is returning Saturday after a two-year hiatus because of the pandemic. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

HALLOWELL — Central Mainers on Saturday will be treated to a parade with over 50 entrants, fireworks, a diverse array of food and snacks, a road race, an arts and crafts festival and a cornhole tournament as Old Hallowell Day marks its return following a two-year hiatus because of the pandemic.

Laura Harper, executive director of the Old Hallowell Day Committee, said the decision to bring the event back comes after consulting with doctors on the city’s board of health.

“We have worked as best as we can to have nearly all of our sponsored events outdoors (to) try to reduce the risk of COVID transmission,” Harper said.

The committee, which consists of about 20 members, meets in April and continues to do so every two to three weeks up until the day of the event.

Committee Chair Jane Oberton said members of the public are encouraged to join the committee and attend meetings throughout the planning process.

The city has hosted Old Hallowell Day on the third Saturday in July since 1968. This year, the celebration returns with all the activities that longtime guests remember, with the only changes being that the bocce tournament is being replaced with a cornhole tournament.


Harper said the decision to move to cornhole was based on the growing popularity of the game.

“The chair of the bocce tournament said, ‘Hey guys, let’s do cornhole this year. It’s pretty popular,'” she said. “We were like, ‘Yeah, let’s give it a try.’ There wasn’t that much discussion. Especially since he’s been chairing the event for so many years. We trust that he’s got his finger on the pulse of lawn games. He thought it would be more successful and it was time for a change.”

Artist Keith Peters talks about his painting of the Hallowell Fire Department’s antique fire pump called “The Tiger” during a reception Thursday at City Hall. The painting adorns the posters for Old Hallowell Day, which returns Saturday after a two-year hiatus because of the pandemic. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Aside from the introduction of cornhole, this year’s International Kids Festival, presented by the Capital Area New Mainers Project, will be held at the group’s new multicultural center on 20 Union St. instead of at the Vaughan Field park.

“They are going to have music and food from other countries,” said Oberton. “Pineland Suzuki (School) is playing, and I believe over 10 countries will be represented. It’s going to be great.”

And the parade, a favorite for organizers and guests alike, is back with over 50 entrants, a number that Harper says is on par with pre-pandemic events.

“We have some oldies but goodies coming back for the parade, and then we have some new entrants,” said Harper. “So it’s an eclectic, diverse, fun group that’s going to be marching this year. I’m super excited about the parade.”


Fireworks at 9 p.m. will cap off the festivities. They will be set off over the Kennebec River in front of the city, and put on by Central Maine Pyrotechnics.

“People always just love the fireworks, and we were very grateful that we had the funds available, because prices have gone up on everything, so our fireworks costs increased, but we’re still able to deliver a show that’s on par with what we’ve done back in 2019 and years prior,” said Harper.

The committee is also recognizing Rosemary Presnar as the 2022 Old Hallowell Day Citizen of the Year. Presnar has spent years serving the city on boards such as the Hallowell Conservation Commission, the planning board and the comprehensive planning committee. She’s advocated for the city’s natural resources, helped the fight against browntail moths and helped manage the city’s forests and trails.

This photo, taken circa 1910, shows the Hallowell Fire Department’s Tiger fire pump that is featured on this year’s Old Hallowell Day poster. Courtesy of Old Hallowell Day Committee

Concerning the committee’s decision to select Presnar as citizen of the year, Hallowell Mayor George Lapointe said, “Who can argue with that?”

The poster for this year’s Old Hallowell Day, features artist Keith Peters’ painting of one of the city’s antique fire pumps. Courtesy of Old Hallowell Day Committee

“Rosemary is passionate, knowledgeable and engaged in so many things,” he said. “Whether the town deals with her on planning issues or conservation commission issues or general engagement, she’s there all the time. She’s there with her heart and her head, so I’m glad that she’s getting this honor.”

Oberton said Presnar was a “wonderful choice,” for the distinction.

“She’s a real community citizen,” she said, “and very active in whatever the city needs. She’s done an awful lot on conservation, and most recently she’s been sampling water in creeks and ponds in Hallowell.” The water sampling has been for nonpoint source pollution, which is caused by rainfall, land runoff and other sources that carry natural and human-made pollutants into waters.

Overall, Lapointe said that he and others in Hallowell are just excited to see the event finally return.

“It’s one of those signature Hallowell events that people really love,” he said. “It brings the city together. It brings people to the city, so I’m very much looking forward to it. And I hear the weather is supposed to be pretty decent, so we’re not going to cook or get rained on, so that’s very good. What’s not to like?”

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