Kristin Bernhart stays pretty busy running Freeport True Value Hardware with her husband, Woody Woodbury, so she doesn’t get out and about to other businesses in town as much as she’d like.

The Great Scavenger Hunt, sponsored by the Greater Freeport Chamber of Commerce, forced Bernhart’s hand. It also got her the scavenger hunt grand prize, donated by the 22 local businesses that participated in the contest, and worth an estimated $800.

Bernhart, one of 30 people who registered for the event, said she was a winner, regardless of the prizes.

“I love all the stores that participated, so whatever they put in the basket, it’s great,” Bernhart said. “I think it’s a great concept.”

Bernhart also appreciated the opportunity to meet others in the Freeport business community.

“I don’t get out that much,” she said, “so this forced me to get out and meet people. And I actually did spend some money.”

Sande Updegraph, executive director of the Greater Freeport Chamber of Commerce, said that the chamber likes the concept of the scavenger hunt enough to hold another one – this year, in fact. The chamber will announce in October the specifics of the next scavenger hunt, to be held in November.

“It drew a lot of new people into these locally owned businesses, and that’s what we wanted,” Updegraph said.

Each participant paid $5 to enter The Great Scavenger Hunt. Updegraph said that most gifts from the 22 locally owned businesses were worth $35-$40. But others – including a blanket valued at $175 from Maine Woolens, a $300 gift certificate from Royal River Heat Pumps and a night’s stay at Kendall Tavern Inn Bed and Breakfast – were worth considerably more.

Participants purchased “passports” at the chamber office. Passports became available June 15 and were turned back in at the chamber office June 26.

The passports, which included clues, led the customers to the 22 businesses. The clues were in the form of questions that could only be answered by going into the businesses and speaking with an employee. The players wrote their answers on the playing cards, or passports, and the employees initialed the passports to verify that the players went into the store. When all of the clues were answered and verified, the passports were turned into the chamber and put in a drawing for the grand prize.

Michelle Fougere, the chamber’s office coordinator, chose the winning name July 1. The passports were laid out on tables with the names upside-down at the chamber office, and Fougere made the selection with her eyes closed.

Updegraph said that only about half of the 60 cards purchased were turned back in, but those who did participate understood the concept.

“The players did what we had hoped – they went into the businesses and they talked to the people,” Updegraph said. “The merchants loved it.”

The grand prize in The Great Scavenger Hunt was wrapped up with red ribbon when the name of the winner, Kristin Bernhart, was drawn on the morning of July 1 at the Greater Freeport Chamber of Commerce. Courtesy photo

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