The band “Hello Newman” playing for a crowd in Brunswick on Wednesday. C. Thacher Carter / The Times Record

Brunswick residents gathered on the town mall Wednesday evening for a night of music and a belated celebration of Maine’s bicentennial.

In 2020, Maine reached 200 years of statehood, however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, festivities in Brunswick and statewide were delayed.

According to Maine Bicentennial Commission Vice-Chairperson David Cheever, in 2019 the commission was formed and received $1 million in state funds for bicentennial projects. Over $650,000, he said, was used for community grants distributed in every county from Kittery to Fort Kent.

Brunswick was awarded $5,500, which was used to fund last night’s event and a new monument, a plaque on a boulder that will sit on the left-facing side of the town mall stage.

“This is exactly what the bicentennial commission was hoping for when we announced the community grant program,” Cheever said. “Few communities can look back as Brunswick can and have such an integral role in Maine becoming a state.”

Maine Bicentennial Commission Vice-Chairperson David Cheever addressing the crowd in Brunswick on Wednesday. C. Thacher Carter / The Times Record

According to Pejepscot History Center Executive Director Larissa Vigue Picard, the Midcoast region of Maine was a focal point of humanity for thousands of years before 1820.

“Ancestors of today’s Wabanki Nations lived in and passed through this region, hunting and fishing for their livelihood,” Picard said during an address to the crowd. “They were the original people here.”

Picard said the first vote to separate from Massachusetts took place in 1792, although it took five additional votes until 1819 when it passed. The state transitioned from “the District of Maine” to just Maine on March 15, 1820.

“Brunswick in 1820 was a rough-hewn community of dirt streets and mostly wood buildings. This mall was a swamp full of beavers,” Picard said. “But the town was rapidly growing into one of the most important towns in the new state. It had a population of approximately 4,000 people, with about 20 stores and services.”

Picard added that the town was a hub for stagecoaches, and there was five churches, 23 schools and several taverns and inns.

Wednesday’s event featured the Portland-based “Hello Newman,” a band that was originally scheduled to play in 2020.

“This is part of the Brunswick Downtown Association ‘Music on the Mall’ concert series,” said Brunswick Downtown Association Executive Director Debora King. “Everything aligned so well. It’s our way of saying ‘congratulations state of Maine’ for making it this far.”

Brunswick resident Norann Baranello said she attended three of the concerts over the summer. “It’s just the whole atmosphere,” Baranello said. “Just to sit and relax, it’s free, which is really nice.”

King said that the 10 shows between June and Sept. ranged from 700 to 2,000 in attendance.


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