January 21, 2020

Blueberry festival set for Aug. 18-20

MACHIAS — The 20th Annual Machias Blueberry Festival, scheduled for Aug. 18-20, will celebrate the lowbush blueberry. Centre Street Congregational Church parishioners organize the blueberry festival.

Friday events will include a fish fry, a children’s parade, and a musical comedy about the annual Washington County blueberry harvest. Saturday events will encompass a blueberry-pancake breakfast served in the church vestry; the five-mile Blueberry Run; an 8 a.m. run for children, women, and walkers; a baked bean supper from 4:30-7 p.m. in the Masonic Hall on Centre Street; food concessions; and a large crafts fair that attracted more than 200 crafters in 1994.

Other events taking place on Saturday will be a concert by the Machias Community Band; a book sale at Porter Memorial Library; another performance of the musical comedy; a Blueberry Bob on the Machias River; and a special postal substation and stamp cancellation offered by the Postal Service.

On Sunday, a thanksgiving service will be held at 10:30 a.m. at the Centre Street Congregational Church. The Chancel Choir and the Centre St. Bell Choir will perform.

Festival visitors will discover many unusual crafts during the crafts fair.

The artist

Her left hand nervously clutching a few five-dollar bills, teen-ager Erin Michie squirms in her canvas-backed director’s chair. She occasionally glances toward a moustachioed Jim Stinchfield, whose hands and fingers move rapidly in the tent shadows.

Erin, who lives in Machias, has asked Stinchfield to caricature her. He’s an Anson artisan d.b.a. Portraits by Stinchfield. For some eight hours on this August Saturday, he’s sat at his artist easel inside a striped tent. Business, as exemplified by Erin Michie, has been steady.

Erin’s caricature gradually coalesces on Stinchfield’s easel. He depicts her as a smiling teen-ager whose head looms larger-than-life over her smaller shoulders. Stinchfield describes his work as “a simple head and shoulders.”

Other caricatures hang on an easel beside Erin. There’s a rotund, smiling Rush Limbaugh, looking like he’s laughing all the way to the bank. There are the First Couple: a shiny-nosed, confused Bill and a Hillary whose catty wink suggests that she knows more than she’s telling.

Erin studies the pavement at her feet, then visually examines Stinchfield at work. He’s angled his easel so that Erin cannot see herself without rising from her chair. She’s probably wondering what the artist has done to her.

The drawing that’s appeared on Stinchfield’s easel vividly captures Erin’s teen-age essence. Her friends would recognize her, as she does when Stinchfield informs her that “I’m all done.

“She liked her drawing when she saw it,” Stinchfield says.

There’s a simple key to creating a successful caricature. “The important thing is to get the eyes first. That gives the personality, and I build on that,” Stinchfield explains.

“Once you have the eyes, the rest of the features can be exaggerated,” he says. “I usually exaggerate adults more than children, men more than women. In general, but not as a blanket rule, kids are more sensitive; most prefer to be normal looking. Adults more or less expect the exaggeration.”

The workers in wood

There are birdhouses. And then there are birdhouses.

The Maine Birdhouse, to be exact. The August heat radiates through the tent where Jim and Carol Anderson have set up their colorful birdhouses, but the sun doesn’t penetrate the cloth roof and walls.

Massachusetts residents who decided to follow their dream and move to Maine in 1991, the Andersons own Heirloom Designs in Cushing. “We call it the `Home of the Maine Birdhouse,”‘ says Jim Anderson.

Some 12-14 birdhouses stand atop posts inside the tent. Each gaily painted, carefully crafted birdhouse depicts a specific structure: a white farmhouse, a fish shanty, a red schoolhouse (P.S. 33), even a red barn with a horse standing in the open doorway.

The Andersons produce their birdhouses in three lines:

The Maine Collection includes a white farmhouse, a fishing shanty, and a Victorian townhouse;

The New England Collection includes an archteypal church on the commons, an early American schoolhouse, and a farm barn;

The European Collection includes an English manor house, an Irish moor cottage (painted to look like fieldstone with a thatched roof), and a German half-timber house.

The birdhouses come in various sizes, including the “standard” large, medium, and mini. The Andersons can make customized birdhouses for their customers. The lettering on the red barn birdhouse proclaims that it’s “Julia’s Barn.” Anyone’s name can go on a birdhouse, and customers can order specifically personal creations.

Jim remembers a New Jersey man who “wanted the barn without the horse in the front door, but a pig, a steer, and a moose.”

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