This photo shows the old race track in Gorham as it looked sometime after the 1930s. Courtesy photo

GORHAM — The Gorham Founders Festival this weekend will celebrate the state’s 200th birthday with a bang. Festivities, with all events observing social distancing, include a parade, fireworks and self-guided historical tours.

“It’s all set,” event organizer Suzanne Phillips, president of the Gorham Historical Society, said this week.

The events scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 12, and Sunday, Sept. 13, pay tribute to the anniversary of Maine’s statehood. Maine separated from Massachusetts, becoming its own state in 1820.

Residents can watch the fireworks at 8 p.m. Saturday at the old horse racing track at the roundabout on Narragansett Street (Route 202). Fireworks will be held drive-in style, Phillips said, and cars will be parked with social distancing.

Those attending can step out of cars to view the display, but “people need to stay with the group they came with,” she said.

A parade with a bicentennial theme rolls out at 3 p.m. Sunday. Parking will be at the municipal lot off Ballpark Road.

Vintage cars and floats will line up at 2:30 p.m. at Village Elementary School on Robie Street. Walking groups and bicyclists will line up in front of the municipal center.

The parade will proceed along South and Main streets to Narragansett Elementary School, where registered floats will be judged. Jane Irish Meggison, who is a member of a founding family in town, is the judge and $500 prize money will awarded to the first place winner, $250 to the second and $100 to the third.

Gorham Historical Society is donating the cash awards.

Meggison said she’ll be “looking for creativity” in the floats, which will reflect the history of the town and state.

At mid-week, Phillips said 20 participants had registered floats or vehicles, but that number does not reflect public safety and public works vehicles. And, although she encourages registration, she said “people are randomly going to show up,” she said.

The self-guided historical walking tour features noteworthy homes, churches and monuments in the village along with buildings on the University of Southern Maine campus. Many town founders are buried in the old cemetery on South Street. To view a list of sites to see, visit gorham2020.com and click on “historical tours.”

Several groups are hosting their own events. Gorham Cooperative Preschool will hold a craft fair from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Shaw Gym at the municipal center. Atlantic Dance Arts is hosting a free dance class at 10 a.m. Saturday on the lawn at Baxter Memorial Library, 71 South St. and White Rock Friendship Club plans a yard sale starting at 8 a.m. at 34 Wilson Road.

Phillips will sell copies of “Gunpowder Mills of Gorham, Maine,” a book by Maurice Whitten, for $5 each on Saturday at the Gorham Farmers’ Market outside the municipal center.

For more information or parade registrations, contact Phillips at 892-9847 or email [email protected]

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