Emily Gray, at left, and Tig Filson are co-chairwomen of Cumberland’s Bicentennial Committee. The panel is planning an array of celebratory events for March-June 2021. Alex Lear / The Forecaster

CUMBERLAND — A few months may still remain in 2019, but a handful of residents have their sights set firmly on 2021.

That’s the year Cumberland will celebrate its 200th birthday, and residents Tig Filson and Emily Gray – co-chairwomen of the town’s Bicentennial Committee – are planning several activities to make that milestone memorable.

“We’ve got a lot of ideas, so we want to make sure that it’s inclusive of the whole community, and that we celebrate past, present, future,” Gray said Aug. 14 in an interview alongside Filson. “So in order to do that, it takes some time to plan it.”

Filson said they plan to pay homage to the town in a variety of ways – to its history, through a lecture series, and tours of cemeteries and old houses – to today’s Cumberland through a major gala at the new Greely Center for the Arts.

That party is to be held March 19, 2021 – 200 years to the day after Cumberland seceded from North Yarmouth and was incorporated as its own town. Maine had seceded from Massachusetts just one year prior.

“I think (Maine’s 200th birthday celebration) will be a great way to kick off (Cumberland’s), and talk about why they’re so close together, which is a really neat story, too,” said Gray, who, like Filson, is a history buff. “Just because the town wasn’t allowed to break off from North Yarmouth until Maine was a state.”

The gala will include a re-enactment of the first-ever Cumberland selectmen’s meeting, a cider tasting and appetizers, music, poetry, and a historic quilt display.

“Obviously, everything is pretty tentative at this point,” Gray noted, pointing out her group has yet to delve into the feasibility of all the ideas members have brainstormed. “… But we have a good selection to start with.”

The 10-member committee supporting the efforts of Gray and Filson comprises a diverse contingent of Cumberland residents, the chairwomen said – people new to the community, or have spent their whole lives there, 20-somethings to octogenarians.

“It’s a really good range of people, and they’re all excited about it,” Gray said.

The two women bring career experience to the endeavor. Filson is a conference producer and content strategist; Gray was involved in website strategy and marketing before having children. Both have spent four years in Cumberland.

“For me it was an exciting opportunity to put my creative hat on, and think about ways to showcase our town, and bring our community together,” Filson said. “Whether it be a conference or whether it be a town event, community is really what binds everybody together. So I think that we have an opportunity over the next couple of years to get that going.”

The panel has held four meetings since February and plans to reconvene next month. By that time members hope to have in hand a bicentennial logo, which will incorporate ideas presented by Cumberland children earlier this year in a logo contest.

“The submissions have gone to a designer,” Gray said. “We’ve given them some ideas from other bicentennial logos we’ve looked at as a committee, too, and given them some guidance to pull from our favorite aspects.”

Although 12 people are tasked with running the bicentennial show, they’re going to need a little help from other community members to weave the ideas into reality.

“We are looking for volunteers; that is a huge thing,” Filson said. “No experience is necessary; all we’re looking for is enthusiasm.”

Those wanting to get involved can reach her at [email protected] or 489-9583; Gray can be reached at [email protected] or 756-4494.

A series of activities are planned for the months following the gala. Along with the tours and lecture series on Cumberland’s history there could be a time capsule and a historic baseball game.

There’s also the “Humans of Cumberland,” a nod to the “Humans of New York” street portraits and interview series. It will incorporate current and historic residents alike, “and also just … regular residents,” Filson said. “It could be a 7-year-old, it could be an 85-year-old.”

With photos of those people would come a snippet of a story. “It’s like one little piece of them, which lets people see each other in a more personal level,” Gray explained.

“It’s as much about the quote as it is the photo,” she added. “… Typically it’s something that they’ve experienced. It may be a little piece of a love story; it may be a little piece of their childhood, how they grew up and what they’ve done differently. It’s really whatever touches them, and whatever comes up, which is kind of cool.”

A day-long festival at the Twin Brook Recreation Area would wrap up the bicentennial celebration in late June 2021, right after school lets out and before people leave town for the Independence Day weekend, Filson said.

A bake-off, food trucks, games, dunk tank, sack races, pie-eating contest and fireworks would be included, as well as a steeplechase relay from the Congregational Church in Cumberland to the Tuttle Road United Methodist Church.

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