It looks like we’re in the middle of a classic Maine summer, with sunny, hot days and cool nights. Perfect for spending time outdoors, strolling through our in-town Pondicherry Park and checking out the many locally owned shops that line Main Street.

The small-town character of Bridgton is a big part of what makes it special and keeps our summer friends returning year after year. I have recently joined the Comprehensive Planning Committee led by Bridgton’s Economic Development Director Alan Manoian. The group is working on creating a “form-based code” guideline for new development in town, specifically designed to promote a traditional New England-style of architecture while laying out simple, consistent building standards. It’s a fascinating process, and one that will hopefully maintain Bridgton’s unique character and help it avoid the bland, faceless monotony of sprawl and clutter afflicting other places.

You will be hearing more about form-based codes as we are putting the concept up for a town-wide vote in November. Please let me know if you have any questions about it or want to get involved with the effort.

These Be Fine Things

The Courtyard’s first live play is happening this month, too. Children’s Services Librarian Annika Black is bringing the Oxford High School’s theater group to perform “The Tempest.” Also free, this beloved Shakespeare work will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 21. Live theater in Bridgton should become a summer tradition; thanks to Annika for kicking it off with a classic!

Art In the Park

One mid-July highlight is Bridgton’s annual Art in the Park. Held in beautiful Shorey Park at the Highland Lake beach, this juried exhibition brings dozens of Maine-based painters, sculptors, jewelers and photographers to town. Whether you are looking for a classic oil painting, a whimsical miniature, a photo of local wildlife or a hand-thrown vase to put fresh flowers in, you will find it and more at Art In the Park.

Art in the Park runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 16, rain or shine. If you have any questions about this event or any of the exhibiting artists, please call Gallery 302 at 647-ARTS.

Courtyard Culture

One of the first phases of our Downtown Revitalization plan has come to fruition, and it is bearing some great new programs. The grand redesign of our library’s front courtyard is complete, and, as hoped, it has become a popular gathering place in the center of town.

Along with shade trees and comfortable chairs there are now several special events on deck to enjoy. Our local Taoist Tai Chi group is holding free classes at 9 a.m. in the courtyard every Monday, Wednesday and Friday through summer, and all ages and skill levels are welcome. Tai Chi is a graceful, low-impact workout that improves flexibility, balance and mental clarity. What a beautiful setting to practice it.

BBQ bragging rights

The first-ever Western Maine BBQ Festival is happening the weekend of July 23 and 24 at the Fryeburg Fairgrounds, and a friendly local competition has sparked up.

Created by the Denmark Lions Club to support their charitable outreach, the New England BBQ Society-sanctioned event will bring seasoned pros from across the country to compete for cash prizes, and two of the teams are from here in Bridgton. Eric Heath and Nick Klimek of the Black Horse Tavern have challenged Bob McHatton to a throwdown, with the winner gaining bragging rights and the loser suffering humiliation.

Long-time friends, the men thought the bet would add a fun twist to the weekend, and even though it’s a competition, they will be enjoying the weekend’s festivities together and camping at the same site. McHatton said, “I have eaten a lot of Nick’s BBQ at the Black Horse and while it is very good, ‘very good’ is not good enough to beat Butt-Crack Bob-eque.” Klimek simply said, “We are going to “smoke” McHatton.”

Join both teams and many more at the festival, which runs Saturday from 10 a.m. til 8 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the gate and there will be great food, entertainment and lots and lots of tasty ‘que.

Hang Ten

The Skateboard ramp off Depot Street is a popular summertime gathering place for local teenagers, some with better skating skills than others. Bridgton Rec is offering skateboarding lessons for all ages of those with beginner and intermediate skill levels.

The lessons are being taught through the GoSkate program at the Bridgton Skate Park on Saturdays and Sundays from July 30 through Aug. 21. The cost is $45 for the entire program. Forms are available at the Bridgton Town Office or online at [email protected] Contact Rec Director Tom Tash at 647-8786 for more information.

Funtown trip

The annual Bridgton Rec-sponsored Funtown/Splashtown Trip will be held on Tuesday July 19, with rain date the 21st. The cost is $25 per person, which includes transportation, park entry and supervision. This is a great chance to get your kids out of town for a safe day of fun in the sun, and some free time for you too. Forms are available at the town office or online.

Strike Up the Band

I love grilling out on the back porch on summer nights, especially on Wednesdays when we take our traditional after-dinner walk to watch the Bridgton Community Band.

This ensemble of local musicians performs free every Wednesday through summer at 7:30 p.m., weather permitting.

The band members range in age from 16 to 80, and many have played in symphonies, chamber ensembles and orchestras. The marches, standards and old-time gospel pieces they play are diverse and perfect for a warm summer night.

The Gazebo is located on the campus of Stevens Brook School, right on Route 302/Portland Road across from the Black Horse Tavern.


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