Friday, July 22, 2011

Kennebunk Renovations Breathing New Life Into Downtown

By Chip Schrader
Staff Columnist
Over the last year, the look, feel, and names associated with downtown Kennebunk have changed. Completed sidewalk construction, an increase in summer foot traffic and a number of new local businesses are bringing the town some deserved attention.
The Saturday Farmers Market has been a success, where shoppers can find locally-made cheeses, breads and vegetables, along with beef from grass-fed livestock raised in a Maine farm. When the market began, it was held in a rear lot between the Sunoco station and the Kennebunk Inn where a Mobil station was located. Over the last two years, this Mobil was demolished, and the empty lot has been filled with wood chips to provide a pedestrian-friendly ambiance. The farmers market organizer, Caroline Segalla, hopes to build upon this success with a Tuesday evening sidewalk fair that operates from 5 to 8 p.m., often with a musical guest.
Eateries that stretch along Route 1 include breakfast places, a café, comfortable taverns, pizza and burger hangouts, and upscale restaurants, including the brand new 50 Local. The décor of 50 Local has an ultra modernistic feel with a bohemian edge, while the menu features local farms and ingredients that are derived from local sources listed on a chalkboard in the restaurant. Mussels, steaks and burgers are all on the menu, but expect a twist in the preparation and presentation.
As restaurants have begun to populate Main Street, there is also an art scene developing. It began with the opening of Mainely Mysteries this spring, and is continuing with the recent opening of The Hive, an art and performance art studio that overlooks the corner of the Kennebunk Inn.
Topping off the emergence of performance art in Kennebunk is an ongoing Shakespeare in the Park series that runs through August 13 in Lafayette Park. Last Sunday, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” was performed, with the spacious park adding to the scenery of the classic play. Among the performances The Hive is scheduled to feature are the musician Patrick Fitzsimmons on July 29, and in August, “The Living Room Series,” which features local rock musicians “unplugged.” The rest of the time, the gallery of paintings, pottery, and sculpture should draw a buzz to the town.
As markets and hometown festivals roll in to enhance Kennebunk’s small town appeal, the influx of new local businesses hopes to draw and keep public interest in the quaint downtown. The new layout and sidewalks have increased the town’s curb appeal, while a circular gathering spot at the center of it all advertises to passersby that this is a social downtown. With the Five and Dime officially closed, and paint being scraped from attached storefronts, locals and visitors can only guess what is next for Kennebunk.
Photo caption: This brick patio is one of many renovations that have taken place – and are still evolving – in downtown Kennebunk. (Photo by Chip Schrader)

Raitt Farm to Host 16th Annual Antique Tractor and Engine Show

By Larry Favinger
Staff Columnist
Tractors and engines will take center stage at the Raitt Homestead Farm Museum next weekend for the 16th Annual Antique Tractor and Engine Show.
This year’s show will feature Case Tractors and the featured engine will be the Woodpecker.
Last year more than 4,500 people visited the show at the museum, which is located at 2077 State Road, Route 103, in Eliot. The site is just over five minutes from the Kittery Outlet Malls and Portsmouth.
The show is open Friday through Sunday, July 29, 30 and 31. Admission is $5 with children six and under admitted free. The gates will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday; 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday; and Sunday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Highlights Friday include a 5:30 auction with the proceeds going to the Raitt Homestead Farm Museum. Those bringing an auction item will be admitted free Friday night. No electronic items will be accepted for auction.
At 6 p.m. the Garden Tractor Pulling contest will begin.
Saturday activity begins at 7 a.m. with a pancake breakfast. At 9:30, the kids’ Pedal Tractor Pull will be held followed by the initial Ladies’ Skillet Toss.
The Tractor Parade begins at 1:30 p.m. with the Antique Stone boat Tractor Pulling at 3 p.m.
Activity begins Sunday at 8 a.m. with a church service “In the Pines.” The Tractor Tour is set at 9 a.m., the kids’ pedal tractor pull at 9:30 and the Tractor Parade at 1 p.m.
The Transfer Sled Tractor Pulling and raffle drawings are set at 2 p.m.
Featured throughout the show will be a large number of antique tractors, farm equipment displays, hit and miss engines, shingle mill demonstrations, auctions, live music, bean hole beans, strawberry shortcake and other fair food, crafts, flea market and more. There will also be a Colonial encampment.
On permanent new display this year is a 1920’s Hildreth Brothers Woodsplitter that will be in operation – owned by Tom Stephens.
The shingle mill will be on its new pad – still need to build the building, and the pad for the new blacksmith shop is on the grounds as well.
The 1858 Remington revolver that was discovered will also be on display throughout the weekend.
The mission of the Raitt Homestead Farm Museum is to educate future generations with displays and demonstrations of antique farm equipment for the purpose of keeping valuable farming heritage alive.
This event is one of three fundraising events held at the Farm Museum each year with 100 percent of the proceeds raised going to the preservation and restoration of the farm property and to continue its mission.
The preservation and restoration of the museum’s 33-acre property and buildings is an ongoing project throughout the year.
Photo caption: Pictured is a tractor from last year’s Antique Tractor and Engine Show. This year’s event takes place in Eliot July 29-31. (Courtesy photo)

Opening Scenes: The Final ‘Harry Potter’

By Chip Schrader
Movie Reviewer
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” begins with Voldemort casting a bolt of lightning into the night sky. The scene cuts to the ghostly black dementors hovering above Hogwarts, the once magical wonderland that has now become a brooding and ominous castle that resembles a giant lair in classic Gothic literature where evil lurks. Severus Snape, the new headmaster, looks down upon his school, the children march like stormtroopers inside. Harry is hiding out with his friends in a small hut; he gazes into a broken mirror that reflects his own face, and that of the deceased former headmaster, Albus Dumbledore.
All bets are off in this final installment of the Harry Potter legend. All of the roles are carried out by the same actors as the previous films, and they continue to embody their character with precision. The most notable newcomer is Albus Dumbledore’s brother, Aberforth, played by Ciaran Hinds. While he plays a smaller role in this film, he is masterfully placed to fill in a few gaps of Dumbledore’s past, but the role is too brief to get a feel for the character.
The film, as a whole, takes broad sweeps of the original book, as to be expected. But, the film is best judged upon its own merit since cinema is at a great handicap compared to literature. In comparison to Part 1, Part 2, if possible, is even darker and takes place underground, and in narrow passages, while its predecessor was greatly shot in the vast countryside. The claustrophobia the director provides in the cinematography builds tension for the viewers as Harry must invade Bellatrix Lestranges’ vault at Gringot’s bank.
Dragons, giants, and assorted ghouls inhabit the land in this film, and boost its grandiosity without providing the cheesy CGI side effects that plague a Michael Bay film, i.e. “Transformers.”
Harry’s return to Hogwarts is marked with a chilling message from Voldemort. The old magic of Hogwarts, greatly missing from the previous installment, swarms in a mass of darkness and mayhem, and the expansive campus becomes the site for an epic battle between good and evil.
The shortcomings include the fact that Harry never seems in too much danger of Voldemort catching him. It just plays out as a scavenger hunt for Harry, Hermione and Ron, while the deatheaters wait idly by. The visions Harry gets of Voldemort provide glimpses of evil, but no real suspense. The necessity of Harry to face Voldemort, and the circumstance under which he must meet him do provide some white knuckle viewing three-quarters through the movie.
The bottom line: this movie is darker, creepier, and more intriguing than any of the previous films. It is even more entertaining than the first part. The cinematography is gorgeous, and uses shadows and perpetual darkness to not only convey a sense of foreboding, but makes it a beautiful movie to look at. If the movie could stand to be an hour longer, the loss of many characters shouldn’t have been glazed over, and the battle deserved greater detail as does the character development. Combined with the previous release, the character development and action will appear more balanced. Collectively, both parts are a nearly flawless grand slam. 4.5 out of 5.
Photo caption: (Courtesy movie poster of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2”)