New Committee Brings New Insight for International Homecoming Festival

Twitter icon
Facebook icon

By Jayna Smith

The members of the International Homecoming Festival Committee from the U.S. side continually invite community members to join them in their efforts.  Since September, the group has been working diligently planning and organizing this year’s annual celebration.  Pictured are (front, L to R) Chairperson Marcia Hayward, Debbie Taylor, (back, L to R) Treasurer Laurel Perkins, Stephanie Morrison, and Secretary Jayna Smith.  Absent from photo are Teresa Kowalski and Anthony Giard. 


This summer marks a momentous time for the International Homecoming Festival.  The festival, signifying the friendship between the two international communities of Calais, Maine and St. Stephen, New Brunswick, marks its fortieth anniversary.  Appropriately, the theme this year is “40 and Fabulous!”

Twelve people make up the International Homecoming Festival committee.  This group meets every month, with the exception of August and December, alternating meetings between a Calais location and a St. Stephen location.  Once summer hits, the group meets twice monthly.  Additionally, the seven who represent the U.S. side meet a separate time each month.  They have been working diligently to bring more family-friendly activities for the Calais community.

U.S. Chairperson Marcia Hayward, her first year with the committee, said a highlight for children this year will be the presence of The Maine Jump.  “The Maine Jump is an inflatable play center out of Bangor,” Hayward said.  “They will be here the last two days of the festival with eight or ten inflatable slides and bounce houses, lined up along the water front.” 

But that is not all that is planned for the waterfront.  Many see the waterfront as Calais’ greatest asset and focal point, something that should be utilized more.  Therefore, the committee has many activities planned for that area for people of all ages, and they intend to make the events affordable for all.  Parents will enjoy the many free or low cost activities for their families.

Electricity will soon be available in that vicinity, allowing for food vendors and merchants with a variety of wares to set up between Hog Alley and the waterfront at a minimal cost to vendors.  Children’s activities such as the doll carriage and bike parade, among many other things, will move to that area this year.  And plans are in the works for a Jello jump, an event many remember from past festivals. 

Hayward also reported that she has been working with the Passamaquoddy Tribe for a festival event.  “For the first time ever, the Passamaquoddy Tribe has agreed to spend a day with us, teaching and demonstrating their culture and talents.  Many of us live close-by but have never taken the time to learn, so here’s the opportunity.”

The International Homecoming Festival Committee will also hold a giant art and craft fair, in addition to other types of booths, at the triangle park on parade day, August 10th.  That area will be busy all day with musical and other types of entertainment acts scheduled on the stage.

As well, the festival hopes to showcase local musical talent.  Rather than spend large amounts of local money on bands from away, the group is inviting all local musicians and bands to come take part in the International parade and festivities. 

“Washington and Charlotte Counties are ripe with talent in diverse fields. We believe it is critical to the success our community to showcase these individuals, not only so area residents appreciate them, but so our guests discover these jewels as well.  There certainly is great culture all around us,” Hayward said.  “We are searching for talent of all types to perform during the festival, whether musicians, artists or crafts-persons, there is a place for all at the International Homecoming Festival.”

Not only is the group busy planning events for the August 2nd to August 11th celebration, the International Homecoming Festival Committee has upcoming fundraising events planned on both sides of the border.  Cash Calendars are currently being sold by members and friends of the committee.  For just $10, one can purchase a ticket for a chance to win a daily cash prize in May.  Amounts range from $15 up to $100, with a total of $800 being awarded.

The St. Stephen Legion will be the setting for a dance on Saturday, April 27th.  This event promises to be fun-filled for those ages 19 and older with a cash bar, raffles, and door prizes. 

A Spring Shopping Spectacular will take place Thursday, May 9th at the Calais Motor Inn, just in time for Mother’s Day.  For a small admission fee, shoppers can view and purchase items from local merchants and purchase tickets at a Chinese auction—all under one roof.  There is no fee for merchants to set up at this event. 

On Saturday, June 1st, a motorcycle run will take place.  Cars are also invited to follow along the scenic route which will lead the travelers to Lubec .  All can enjoy a great lunch, great views, and great socializing before returning to Calais. 

 

The International Homecoming Festival Committee is always looking for volunteers and new ideas.  If one cannot attend regular meetings, help will certainly be appreciated at any of the events.  And those wishing to hold their own event or class reunion can list their event in the festival’s brochure.  The deadline for this is April 15th.

Vendors, artisans, crafters, and musicians are encouraged to contact U.S. Chairperson Marcia Hayward at 263-4711 or via email at mhayward2009@hotmail.com for information and details on participating.   The festival also keeps their Facebook page updated with events and information:  International Homecoming Festival.