July 31st & August 1st, 2nd 2003
"Uniting Family & Community in Dexter"
DEXTER - Gunslingers, daring bank robbery, bales of hay lining the streets, carriage rides, 6 music concerts, hay rides, pony rides, scavenger hunt, Cruz In, the town of Dexter had it all and more during its first annual Wild West Weekend.
Friday afternoon, Wild West Weekend was off to a great start when NCRC Bandit Riders invaded Main Street to rob Bangor Savings Branch Manager Marilyn Hartford as she crossed Main Street. Sheriff (town assessor) Dave Pearson came to the rescue of Hartford and arrested a couple of the 'gun wranglin' bandits (The Brittany's, Currier and Cunningham), while the other bandit made a "run for it out of town"... Many of the spectators on the street heckled the bandits and helped in the arrest of the "no good varmints", as Sheriff Pearson called them.
On Friday evening, parts of downtown Main Street was blocked off as hundreds of people gathered to listen to country music singer Debbie Myers and to watch the line dancing that followed. Renys sponsored the Debbie Myers concert. Dexter police Officer Andre Robichaud estimated that 500 to 600 people packed the closed-down street and that overall traffic was twice what it is normally. "Last night, I was amazed," Robichaud said. " Main Street was loaded."
Throughout the weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday stores held sidewalk & in-house sales while food vendors and other merchants set up booths in central areas near where the action was. Local businesses donated lots of prizes and residents donated time and equipment, providing hayrides, horse rides, and lessons in driving horse-drawn carts. But Cowboy and cowgirl hats, saloon attire, Indians and little buckaroos were the order of the day.
Families, businesses and the community were asked to unite on the same days to promote Dexter and they exceeded the expectations of both Coordinators Judy Wilbur Craig, president of the Dexter Regional Development Corporation and Amie Smith, President of the North Country Riding Club. Starting with an idea in February, they were inviting a few extra vendors for the annual August "All Trophy & Stakes Horse Show", to a full-fledged community event in just over a month.
The Dexter Historical Society was open with extended hours and had record amount of residents and visitors going through their doors. Numerous restaurants and vendors ran out of food over the course of Wild West despite the rainy weather.
Tractor drawn hay rides continued from 9 am until after 4 pm with lines all day long. Pony Rides and Stick Pony Races were a big hit at Wayside Park!
Horses were a very visible part of the weekend clip-clopping along the downtown streets. Although horses are no longer such a primary resource in everyday life, they are a growing presence in the area and proved to be the incentive for the Wild West Days.
The NCRC All Stakes Trophy Show Sunday drew over 600 people to the Dexter Recreation Complex at Bud Ellms Field. Senator Paul Davis, Town Manager Bob Simpson, Singer Heather Clukey were part of the opening ceremonies. Simpson presided over the unveiling of the NEW NCRC sign on their main office, which was generously donated by Bob and Retha Crawford of Dexter. Mr. and Mrs. Crawford were on hand to take part of the festivities and spoke about his love & history of horses and their dedication to helping organizations like NCRC and the Dexter Historical Society. Sen. Davis spoke on the value of Dexter Reg. Development Corporation, the Town of Dexter, the North Country Riding Club and Dexter residents putting on a town wide event and "getting Dexter back in the saddle again".
The Nation Anthem was sung accapella by Heather Clukey, sister of President Amie Smith. Patti Dowse and her pony Itty Bits delivered Sen. Davis & Clukey to the ring for the ceremonies in her new horse cart. Riders, Brittany (s) Cunningham and Currier were flag barriers as well.
Over 50 drawings were held between the 39 classes during the horseshow donated by area businesses. Vendors were also a part of the day, from Homemade Fudge, to candles, popcorn, cotton candy, lobsta' rolls and more. Dick Hanscome drove his 'new' wagon & team of Belgium's and gave free wagon rides all afternoon.
The final festivities were at the Dexter United Methodist Church where Pastor Field and congregation hosted a Blue Grass and Celtic concert with many in attendance.
In conclusion, Co-Coordinators Amie Smith and Judy Wilbur Craig working on 'NO BUDGET', now know that Dexter is ready and willing to "jump back in the saddle again" and Dexter IS moving ahead to the future. Dexter DID united family and community which was the motto for the 1st Annual Wild West Weekend.