Stone workers symposium seeks use of Boothbay Common

Maine Stoneworkers Guild seeks new location for 10-day August event
Sun, 12/02/2018 - 6:15pm

The second Maine Coast Stone Symposium will again, likely, occur in Boothbay, but at another venue. In 2017, Boothbay Railway Village hosted the inaugural event. The symposium is a biennal event created by Maine Stone Workers Guild based on past symposia held in Augusta, Jefferson and Down East Maine. Guests are invited over 13 days to watch sculptors turn blocks of Maine granite into artwork.

Maine Coast Stone Symposium Treasurer and Event Chairman Dick Alden of Boothbay represented the organization during the Nov. 26 selectmen’s meeting. He and Event Marketing Coordinator Margaret Hoffman requested use of the common. Two possible sets of dates were requested for 2019. One was July 25 to Aug. 6. The other was Aug. 1 to Aug. 13. Alden told selectmen the symposium is looking for a new venue due to recent staff changes at Boothbay Railway Village.

“Unfortunately, there has been significant staff changes at the railway village. And the guild, not knowing when key management and education positions would be filled made the difficult decision to move forward and locate a new site in the Boothbay region for the 2019 event,” he said.

The 2017 event averaged 250 visitors per day. One session drew over 500. Alden believes attendance may increase this year with a new venue and no admission charge. Organizers requested a Thursday afternoon start to avoid conflicting with weekly summer craft fairs held on the common. The Guild and 12-14 participating artists require between one day and a day and half for set up. For 10 days, sculptors would begin sculpting Maine granite at 8 a.m. On Wednesday, artists would remove materials in anticipation for the next day’s craft fair. Alden explained only the sculptures would remain in a central location out of the craft fair’s way.

The event would conclude with a two-day cleanup of all equipment and sculptures. Alden reported a partnership is being discussed with Boothbay Region Land Trust to have artists’ works featured during the organization’s quadrennial art auction.

The symposium must fill out a Boothbay Common application. Town Manager Dan Bryer will make the ultimate decision. “This is a pretty significant project and prolonged use of the  common. So I wanted the board to hear their request with an opportunity to ask any questions before making a decision,” he said. “I need to make sure the event doesn’t interfere with other scheduled uses of the common before giving approval.”

In other action, Bryer updated selectmen about the landscaping committee’s request for proposals in maintaining the common and roundabout. The committee placed a public notice in last week’s Boothbay Register. In 2017, the seven-person committee was charged with creating a new design for a landscape entry into the Boothbay region. This year, selectmen expanded the committee’s role by adding overseeing Boothbay Common maintenance. The public notice solicited requests for proposals for a business with experience maintaining large landscapes.
”The sole purpose of this is for judging what it may cost come time for budget purposes next year,” Bryer said.

Selectmen will meet next at  7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 12 in the municipal building’s conference room.