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More in Community
Norway Shoe & String Festival coming
NORWAY — Recognized in 2012 by the Maine Downtown Center as a uniquely Maine festival, the Norway Shoe & String Festival returns this year with support from the Maine Arts Commission and the Maine Historical Society. The annual festival is a collaboration between Norway Downtown, the Norway Historical Society and the Western Foothills Land Trust.
The festival is designed to honor Norway’s rich history as the “The Snowshoe Town of America.” The name Shoe and String Festival recognized Norway’s celebrated native son Mellie Dunham who was famous for his snowshoes and for his fiddle playing. Mellie was famous for making the snowshoes that successfully carried Admiral Peary’s expedition to the South Pole, and he was a renowned fiddler, commissioned by Henry Ford to play traditional fiddle music across the land.
To find out more about Mellie and the history of the snowshoe industry in Norway, the public is welcome to a presentation on Thursday evening, February 7, at the Norway Historical Society at 7 p.m. The evening will showcase the new Mellie Dunham exhibit on the Maine Memory Network – an online archive featuring images of Maine’s historical treasures which is a project of the Maine Historical Society in Portland. The Mellie Dunham exhibit has been prepared by the Norway Historical Society and will be introduced on February 7 by Candace Kanes, the curator of the Maine Memory Network.
The Norway Historical Society talk on Thursday will kick off the weekend celebration. Two exhibits will open on Friday the 8th. A storefront exhibit of historic Norway-made snowshoes will be hung in the former Red Beard Antiques windows thanks to Paul Cote of Pa’s Antiques and John Belanger. This exhibit will feature snowshoes made by HH Hosmer, Mellie Dunham, Nat Noble, Tubbs and Snocraft, all snowshoe manufacturers in town. Across the street at the Fare Share Gallery, an exhibit called "Snowshoe Stories" honoring local stories, photographs and locally made snowshoes will open at 6 p.m. with a reception. At 7 p.m. Lee Dassler will give a presentation about the history of the Norway snowshoe industries called “To Both Poles and a World in Between.” All lectures and exhibits are free of charge.
Saturday morning will feature snowshoe games and races from 10 a.m.-noon at Roberts Farm Preserve, 64 Roberts Road in Norway. The games are free and are for all ages and include a three-legged race, musical chairs, 100-yard dash, 1k trail run, egg and spoon race, and the world’s only snowshoe wife carry. All games are enjoyed on snowshoes; and thanks to SAD17, snowshoes are now available on loan at the Preserve. Traditional prizes will be awarded for those attending in historic woolen outfits wearing wooden snowshoes.
Honoring the musical side of Mellie Dunham’s life and fame, there will be two contra dances held at the Norway Grange on Saturday, February 9. From 4-6 p.m. Bill Olson and Pam Weeks on fiddle (with Olson calling the steps) will offer an Introduction to Contra Dancing - a great way to ease into the fine art of this traditional style of dancing. From 7-9 p.m., serious contra dancing will continue with the nationally famous duo Perpetual e-Motion.
“Captivating, passionate, propulsive and progressive are what best define the music of this power duo, perched at the convergence of traditional and electronic dance music. Perpetual e-Motion integrates technical and sonic innovations with old school traditions to create a enormous sound full momentum and groove. Lauded as a two-man orchestra, this duo continues to innovate the art of traditional dance music through their use of sound sculpting and multitasking, captivating listeners and dancers with their infectious and unique sound.”
A donation of $5 includes both contra dance sessions.
To fuel the dancing, Norway Downtown will host a Lasagna Supper from 5-7 p.m. at the Grange. The fine chefs at Ari’s are providing the fare this year to include a green salad, garlic bread and beverage as well as vegetarian and meat lasagnas. The supper will cost $7.