Wentworth 250th Anniversary Celebration
Beginning in the spring of 2015, a Steering Committee for W250 was formed, consisting primarily of Wentworth Historical Society members, as listed below:
- Margaret Bickford
- Marguerite Burne
- Ida Hutchins
- Carole Hodgdon
- Cookie Kinder
- Jen Meade
- George Morrill
- Martha Morrill
- Ellie Murray
- Francis Muzzey
- Craig Pasco
The initial project was the development of a logo. A community-wide contest was announced for the summer. Two designs were approved: 1) a round green seal with sunrise, designed by Helen Downing with graphics by Eric Hiltz, and 2) and a black profile 250 with well-known house, mill, church and train, by Margaret Bickford. The green logo was made into an 8-ft. mural, first displayed for the Talent Show at the Elementary School, then at the Old Town Hall during the year for all shows. This logo also appeared in smaller versions at the intersections of East Side Road and of Wentworth Village Road and Route 25. It was also made into 3-inch buttons, sold at all 2016 events. The black profile logo was printed an all T shirts of various sizes and colors, also for sale, and appeared on all printed programs and notices for all anniversary events.
Several meetings during 2015 were concerned with event planning. The goal was an average of one event per month. With the exception of March, the 2016 calendar was finalized as follows:
- Jan. 22 Variety/Talent Show at the elementary school, with 20 acts.
- Feb. 20 “Winterfest”: snow/ice sculpture; rides (cancelled: no snow!)
- April 23 Historical Society Museum opened (every Sat. midday)
- May 7 Historical House Tours begin (self-guided; May-Nov)
- June 10 Organ and Bells Concert, Congregational Church
- July 3 “America” Patriotic Revue, Old Town Hall
- July 23 Garden Tour, all over town
- Aug. 6 “Market Day” on Common
- Sept. 10 Country-Gospel Concert, Congregational Church
- Sept. 24 “Septemberfest”, Common, Old Town Hall, Airstrip
- Oct. 15 Harvest Supper, Congregational Church
- Nov. 1 Anniversary Celebration, Old Town Hall.
Discussion about available funds continued throughout 2015 and into 2016, with funds identified in both the Town and the Historical Society accounts. The final report by Society Treasurer Craig Pasco will be attached.
The Variety/Talent Show was a huge success, and a great kick-off for the year. Tonya Orlando, School administrator, organized, publicized, and presided over a lively, 2-hour program featuring both community and student performers who sang, read, danced, and acted. The evening was so well received that community members began looking forward to the next show, hopefully in January 2017.
Lack of snow cancelled “Winterfest” in February. March was left open for Easter celebrations already scheduled at local churches and nearby communities.
The Historical Society opened its museum on Saturdays in late April, with some new exhibits. Attendance was very high and remained steady throughout the summer for interested townsfolk and visitors. Most visitors were amazed at the wealth of artifacts, photographs, and literature collected.
The Historic House Tours began on May 7, to run all summer until November. This tour was self-guided, drive-by only, facilitated by an updated directory, with maps, of the 97 buildings described in Francis Muzzey’s book on them. Approximately 80 buildings, both public and private, were all originally built between 1777 and 1900, and demonstrated a variety of additions and alterations according to use and owner’s preference. Although it was impossible to keep track of the number of visitors through the year, quite a few persons, both local and out-of-town, took at least part of the tour.
The Congregational Church on the Common invited everyone to hear Gary Jesseman, organist, play the old Hook & Hastings pipe organ on June 12. This organ. an exceptionally fine instrument, was built in 1878 and installed at the church in 1949, and has been played at least once a year for many summers. The church handbell choir, under the direction of Pastor Margaret Bickford, also performed a group of seven songs. The church itself is of historic importance, rebuilt after a fire in 1828 in the style of Charles Bulfinch of European prominence, and carefully maintained for nearly 200 years.
In celebration of the Nation’s birthday, the music revue “America” was presented by the singers of Bradford, VT Congregational Church, under the direction of Gary Jesseman, organist of Wentworth Congregational Church and author of the program. This included patriotic readings and songs, which had been warmly received by the people of Bradford, VT, as the final event of their 250th. Anniversary year, 2015.
On Sat. July 23 twelve private gardens were open for visits. These were located on Atwell Hill, in northern and western Wentworth, and around the Common. Helen Downing, local artist, designed the cover of the tour guide. Although attendance was light, those who toured were delighted with what they saw and heard from the owners.
Market Day, always a big event and well attended, occurred on Sat. Aug. 6, with a variety of concessions and shows on the Common. These included a Band Concert, a Tai Kwon Do demonstration, chainsaw sculpture, kids’ games, crafts, books, food and bakery. The Duck Race, always popular, drew a large crowd down at the falls near the former bridge site.
The Country-Gospel Concert on Sept. 10 at the Congregational Church drew a full house and was enthusiastically received. Roland Bixby organized and presided over at least ten performers, many being local talent. The event was dedicated to veterans and drew attention to a growing effort to establish permanent monument to all who have served.
“Septemberfest” on Sept. 24 combined kids and adult games, food concessions, craft sales, and a 2-5 walk/run, all on the Common. Laurie Lindaris organized the popular “Kids Village”, running at the same time as the Tai Kwon Do, chainsaw sculpture, and square dancing at the Old Town Hall. The day was topped off by a concert by the Baker Valley Band and fabulous fireworks by Hell’s Gate.
The traditional Harvest Supper was put on by the Congregational Church on Sat. Oct. 15, and was unusually well attended. “Turkey & all the fixin’s” was the featured menu, from which no one went away hungry.
The crowing event of this Anniversary Year was the Nov. 1 celebration at the Old Town Hall. Three legislators attended and made presentations. Then a “trip” through the town’s 250 years was presented by various historical figures, including its three historians, Gov. Benning Wentworth reading the 1766 Charter, and groups of both men and women swapping stories. The 8th . grade student winner of the trivia contest, Amanda Thompson, was announced, an historical video by Francis Muzzey was shown, and poems by Poet Lauriate Wilfred Tatham were read by his son. After the benediction by Rev. Jeffrey Greeson of Wentworth Baptist Church, concluding remarks were made by Margaret Bickford, W250 Committee chairperson, who was recognized and thanked.
It was a great way to wrap up a memorable year.
Many acknowledgements and thanks are due to a long list of people. I have made a special effort to thank as many of the individual participants in person as possible. Several “Letters to the Editor” of the Plymouth Record-Enterprise have been published as public thanks to the leaders and staff of individual events. In any case, the general response to the year of celebration has been extremely positive, for which I am most grateful.
Margaret W. Bickford, W250 chair
February 2, 2016 letter from Executive Councilor Joseph D. Kenney congratulating the town on the 250th anniversary.
Download the letter
"The Way We Were: A Trip Through Wentworth's History"
Click on the photos for a larger version.