WESTBROOK — As May winds down, that can only mean one thing: it is time again for the Westbrook community to come together for its annual Westbrook Together Days.
For the last 40 years, the festival has been bringing together families and friends for a weekend of food, rides and entertainment.
“Because it is the 40th, we really wanted it to be special,” said event organizer Suzanne Joyce, president of the Westbrook-Gorham Chamber of Commerce
The event is expected to attract 15,000 to 20,000 individuals to Riverbank Park for the two-day event.
Mayor Mike Sanphy said the event remains the largest hosted by the city and one that attracts people to downtown.
“Before we had Westbrook Together Days, there was Saccarappa Day when stores put out merchandise on the street for sale. That was good, but Together Days has really brought the city together with the parade, the booths, the entertainment. It is fantastic. It’s the biggest event in the city and brings people from everywhere in.”
Festivities kick off Friday, May 31 with a performance by the Westbrook Jazz Band at 4:15 p.m., followed by demonstrations by Greater Portland School of Jukado at 5 p.m. and Elite All-Stars of Maine at 5:45 p.m. Something Stupid, a four-member event band from Portland, will take the stage at 6 p.m. and Motor Booty Affair will be returning to the Westbrook Together Days stage to perform between 8-10 p.m.
The fun will continue Saturday, June 1 with a 5K beginning at 8 a.m., followed by the annual Westbrook Together Days parade, setting off from Lincoln Street at 10 a.m. This year’s theme is ‘The 1980s Revisited.”
Like in previous years, both days will feature carnival games and amusement rides.
Dick Durgin, the organizer of the parade, said he expects 50 groups to participate, including The Kora Shriner Renegades; the Westbrook City Band, Westbrook High School Band and Westbrook Middle School Band; youth sports groups such as Little League, summer track program, Westbrook Seals, Westbrook Youth Football; dance groups from Drouin, Elite All-Stars and Vivid Motion, as well as members of Kiwanis and Knight of Columbus. Individuals from Westbrook Historical Society, Westbrook School Department, Ernie’s Cycle Shop, Beech Ridge Motor Speedway and other groups will also be participating.
The grand marshal of the parade, sponsored by Mercy Hospital, will be former city councilor John O’Hara. The parade will also feature members of the Westbrook Woman’s Club, which is celebrating 100 years of service to the community in 2019. The group started the tradition of Westbrook Together days in 1980 as a day out for its members and their families. Although the club does not organize the event anymore, it remains an active participant in the parade.
Joyce said the parade will once again involve decorated floats, something that has been missing in recent years. Prizes will be awarded for the top floats.
During the parade, from 10 a.m.-noon, the First Baptist Church in Westbrook, at 715 Main St., will host a carnival with kids games, a bounce house and lunch.
Following the parade, Wayne from Maine, a children’s recording artist, will take the stage at noon. Drouin Dance Center will perform at 1 p.m. and Brio Dance Studio will follow at 2:30 p.m. The event’s musical lineup will continue with Fighting Fiction, a Portland-based modern pop-rock band, at 1:30 p.m. and American Ride, a southern rock band, at 3 p.m., followed by Ragged Jack, a rockabilly trio, at 4:30 p.m. Girls Just Want to Have Fun, a 1980s ladies cover band, will return to the Westbrook Together Days stage at 6 p.m. At 8:15 p.m., Dean Ford and the Beautiful Ones, a Prince tribute band, will perform.
The annual fireworks show, sponsored by Shaw Brothers Construction, will take place at 9:45 p.m.
Saturday’s offerings also include the annual pancake breakfast put on by Boy Scout 87 from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and the auction, which will held throughout the afternoon feature more than 50 items.
“It’s been such a great community event. We hope people like the entertainment on Friday and Saturday. There is a little bit of everything,” Joyce said.
Throughout its history, the event has been free to attend for the community and put on by a team of volunteers. In 2010, Westbrook Together Days won a Spirit of America Award, an honor the Augusta-based Spirit of America organization hands out for volunteerism.
Joyce said she “doesn’t know what we would do without” Vinny Nielsen, who for the last 20 years, has facilitated the vendors at the event.
“He is so instrumental,” she said.
The event, she noted, would also not be a success without assistance from the police and fire departments, who provide public safety support and Public Services, which helps with setup, take down and cleaning the park after Together Days.
“We are really blessed in this town. People really care,” she said.
Michael Kelley can be reached at 780-9106 or [email protected] or on Twitter @mkelleynews
The Kora Shriners will be one of the groups from the city and the area taking part in Westbrook Together Days annual parade, set to kick off at 10 Saturday, June 1.
This weekend’s 40th annual Westbrook Together Days will feature carnival rides, music and dance performances, a parade down Main Street, silent auction and other community events.