The weather didn’t dampen the spirits of the crowd.
[Editor’s Note: This story comes to us from past contributor Michael Taylor, who was a reporter and editor at the San Francisco Chronicle for 36 years. Among other assignments, he wrote about the car world, including coverage of Pebble Beach, races at Sears Point, and a weekly road test column on new cars. He also got to test a few rarities — a Bugatti Veyron and a couple of Bentley convertibles.]
They started trickling in to the Blue Hill Fairgrounds early on a soggy Saturday morning – a handful of Corvettes, a Ford Model A, a Model T, a 1971 International wrecker, a silver (originally, there was no other color) DeLorean. It was the 15th edition of the annual Sedgwick Volunteer Fire Department car show, a fundraiser for this rural Maine coastal town’s firefighters and, in a way, an ode to 100 years of traditional county get-togethers.
1928 Ford Roadster Pickup, owned by Ken Ward of Richmond, Maine.
Blue Hill, with a population of about 2,700, is the hub of the Blue Hill Peninsula, a sprinkling of towns and villages about 30 miles west of Acadia National Park. Every Labor Day weekend, there’s the Blue Hill Fair, a traditional country fair more than a century old, with horse pulling, cotton candy, French fries by the ton, dog trials and country/folk-rock music (James McMurtry is back again this year.)
A Factory Five ’33 Hot Rod, owned by J. Morris of Brooksville, Maine.
At one end of the fairgrounds this particular day was the weekly farmer’s market – sticky buns alongside loaves of bread, handmade pottery, blueberry pies – and not far away was the car show, anchored, in a way, by the Sedgwick fire truck parked along the fence, and the occasional firefighters dressed in bright lime-green emergency worker jackets. When I asked to meet someone who could put this all in perspective, the immediate answer was, “talk to Dick Doane.”
Dick Doane is the 75-year-old chief engineer for Sedgwick Fire. He’s a retiree who started fighting fires more than half a century ago in Middlefield, Connecticut, and when he retired to Maine 14 years ago he promptly joined the local fire department. Good thing, too. More than 90 percent of Maine’s fire stations are staffed mostly by volunteers and their ranks are thinning.
“This show,” he said, looking around at the ranks of trucks, hot rods, sports cars and the like, “is our major fundraiser.” Spectator admission is $3 a head and as the rain came down softly, it didn’t look like there were many spectators wandering past the cars. Local businesses contribute money for the trophies and the feeling is one of community – it’s a chance to show off your car (even if most of the convertibles skipped the wet weather show this year) and a chance to talk to somebody you hadn’t seen for a while.
Jess Moorehouse with his 2001 Corvette.
“This is real people, average folks,” said Jess Morehouse, a 71-year-old retired shopkeeper of nearby Orland, as he wiped a few more splotches of rain from the fender of his Bowling Green Metallic 2001 Corvette. “It’s a community camaraderie of people who love cars. It’s not Pebble Beach – that’s big money.”
Blaise deSibour in front of his 1972 Internantional Loadstar 1600 (left) and 1971 International Loadstar 1600 wrecker.
Past the Corvette corral were a couple of huge green trucks – that 1971 wrecker, flanked by a 1972 International Loadstar 1600, loaded down with lumber (seemingly half of Maine is trees), both owned by Blaise deSibour, who runs a private garage where he and his friends work on cars and mentor local youths who’ve expressed an interest in things automotive. His motto for the shop, known as the “Toy Box” – “we shape lives as well as cars.”
By late morning, the rain had started to abate and at the farmer’s market, they were selling out of blueberry pies. This was the first year it had rained on the Sedgwick Fire car show. But it didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirits. It is, after all, something more than a car show.