WELLS — Josh Turner knows how to wield a chainsaw.

Fortunately for those present at the annual Harbor Fest in Wells on Saturday, Turner uses his powers for good. Angling his blade across a wooden block, his dips, thrusts and occasional blowtorch interludes resulted in a sign fit for commercial use, with the numerals “2015” appearing atop a surge of roiling waves.

“Most of my pieces are 100 percent chainsaw-made,” said Turner. Then, with a wink: “This sure beats working for someone.”

If his temperament was jovial, it was of a piece with the crowds who came to Wells Harbor to take part in festivities, which included a silent auction, clam catching, a lobster trap toss and more music than you could shake a drumstick at.

Ryan Liberty, a member of the Wells Rotary Club, explained that the event is experiencing something of a re-birth.

“A few years ago, it fell apart,” he said. “They started charging admission, and people stopped coming.”

A Wells Chamber of Commerce auction, complimented by a chicken barbecue, still took place on the designated weekend. But the original event, which had been organized by Rotary Club stalwart Moe Steele, had offered a bevy of family-friendly community offerings, and its absence was felt.

So Liberty got to work.

“I made a few calls, and it just kind of came together,” he said.

The lobster trap toss was added so as to create a uniquely Wells-ish competition, and other events were added ”“ such as an obstacle course challenge in which contestants have to carry chainsaws ”“ defanged, of course, unlike Turner’s.

“It seems like every year we add another event,” said Liberty.

That strategy has paid off. Now in its third year back after the hiatus, the festival’s grounds were teeming with people by early afternoon. While clouds hung low and gray over the proceedings, they never busted ”“ continuing a lucky streak of good-weather weekends for the reanimated festival.

That was good news for Tom and Patricia Shortsleeve. The couple make an annual pilgrimage to Maine, and stopped at the Wells event after seeing signs posted for it throughout town.

“We love Maine,” said Tom Shortsleeve. “The people here are so nice. It’s nice that this event is free to the public, too.”

Jackie Lord, meanwhile, has lived in Wells all her life, but had never been to Harbor Fest. She said it was a festival to which she’d gladly return.

“We loved watching children catch the crabs,” she said. “It was wonderful. Everybody was having a genuinely nice time.

“We have grandchildren in the 10- to 11-year-old range, and we’d love to come back with them.”

Reactions like that keep Liberty active in planning, and he expects crowds will go even larger the longer the event goes on.

“We know last year there had to have been 1,000 people at the festival,” he said. “It seems more people come every year.”

— Assistant Editor Jeff Lagasse can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 319 or [email protected]



        Comments are not available on this story.

        filed under: