Wednesday, April 16, 2014
For more than 25 years the town of Greenville has celebrated moose in the spring, drawing a few thousand people to the area during the month-long Moose Mania festival. This year the townspeople are hoping their moose festival draws several thousand over one weekend when the annual moose lottery is held there on June 15.
The Maine Moose Lottery is the draw, but Bob Hamer at the Moosehead Region Chamber of Commerce said what the moose lottery faithful don't realize is the lure of Moosehead Lake in the spring.
June is the time moose are on the move after winter; and the time moose cows can be seen with their calves. The people of the Moosehead region know what that means, but those unfamiliar with the region -- and there are many Hamer said -- are in for a treat.
"For the average visitor driving around in July or August, they're not going to see many moose, when they are out in the (ponds). In May or June, that's not the case. I was out yesterday looking at a potential scenic overlook, just driving there I saw five moose. That's pretty typical for this time of year," Hamer said.
And typically around Moosehead Lake, Hamer said, moose give birth at the end of May. And unlike other wild animals, moose do not hide their young, a fact that delights Moosehead residents.
"The moose drops its baby and in a few hours you can expect them to follow the cow around, the baby walking right behind it... like a small dog," Hamer said. "That's a part of Moose Mania."
Hamer said the wildness around Moosehead is well-known among locals, but often a surprise to visitors.
He and his wife discovered it in 1999 during a visit to Maine from Georgia. Like many tourists in Vacationland, they wanted to see moose. The host at their Castine inn told them they were unlikely to see one on the coast, and should head to Moosehead Lake.
In less than 24 hours in Greenville, Hamer said they fell in love with the region, although they didn't see a moose.
"This area has a feel to it, an ambiance that is unmistakable to people who like the outdoors, who like to fly fish, hike and kayak. But it is way undiscovered," Hamer said. "When I go to Portland and ask people in stores or restaurants, they've never been here. The vendors for the Moose lottery, pretty much everyone I have talked to has never been here. I've talked to 30 vendors so far and almost all of them have never been here."
The 2013 Maine Moose Lottery -- staged in different venues around the state each spring -- will be an important event in the region its first time in Greenville, Hamer said. And the townspeople are planning a three-day festival similar to the one put on in Oquossoc last year during the lottery weekend.
Last June as many as 5,000 people came through Oquossoc to enjoy outdoor contests, seminars, the state's new Moose Calling Championships and the lottery, the Warden Service reported.
Hamer thinks Greenville will duplicate the effort.
For the June 15 lottery, the town has planned as many as a dozen outdoor contests, birding and boating seminars, and a tour of the 1914 historic steamship, the Katahdin. The moose calling championship and the lottery will be held Saturday afternoon.
The Moose Mania schedule of events is being finalized this weekend, and will be posted to the event website soon after.
Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at: