In 1820, the province of Maine broke away from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and became the 23rd state. As part of the Missouri Compromise, Maine entered as a “free” state and Missouri as a “slave” state. In 2020, state officials planned on celebrating Maine’s bicentennial. But the coronavirus resulted in a pandemic, closing all but essential activities.
In Lincoln County, a weeklong celebration was planned for Aug. 16-20. Lincoln County Historical Society created the Lincoln County Pilgrimage as a way to celebrate and educate about Maine’s statehood. Lincoln County Pilgrimage received a $4,500 state grant for planning and organizing the bicentennial. Organizers planned on beginning the week at Boothbay Railway Village with a demonstration of life in the 1820s, but that happened in March just prior to the pandemic arriving in the U.S.
Instead, organizers moved the bicentennial celebration to August 2021. The committee is working towards rescheduling events for a celebration next summer. Ryan LaRochelle of Dresden is a member of both the LCHA and Lincoln County Pilgrimage committees. He reported the celebration is a collaborative county-wide commemoration filled with open houses, public talks, interpretive displays, and tours around a dozen historical societies and historic sites. “Right now we are trying to work with towns to see if those dates are open in August 2021. We should know more about the schedule this fall or in the spring,” LaRochelle said.
One of the original ideas developed by Lincoln County Pilgrimage is a passport booklet which described the various countywide bicentennial events. The booklet would have described events, which may still take place next year, such as an archaeological dig at Chapman-Hall House in Damariscotta, re-enactments at Pownalborough Court House in Dresden, and the Old Jail in Wiscasset. The passport will also include historical facts and tidbits from across the county, and a map guiding visitors to each event.