Thursday, May 23, 2013
BY MIKE LANGE, Correspondent
PITTSFIELD -- The parade was long and colorful, the craft tents were crammed with goodies and customers, and the food concessions left a pleasant aroma Saturday all through Manson Park in Pittsfield.
“Betty’s Dream,” a World War II B-25J bomber, was one of the major attractions at the Central Maine Egg Festival on Saturday in Pittsfield.
Photo by Mike Lange
The Sebasticook Valley Community Band drew a huge round of applause for their Dixieland version of "Just a Closer Walk with Thee."
There were even more carnival rides than anticipated, according to Town Manager Kathryn Ruth.
"Fiesta Shows gave us a bonus this year," Ruth said, "and it really filled the park nicely."
However, the main attraction at the 40th Annual Central Maine Egg Festival was actually a short distance away at the Pittsfield Municipal Airport.
Thanks to Chris Griffith, a Hartland native and the president of the Texas Flying Legends Museum, five World War II aircraft flew into the airport Saturday morning, with a sixth one en route from New York State later in the day.
In addition, Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 736 moved its annual Everything That Flies Fly-In from the Central Maine Airport in Norridgewock to Pittsfield this year. So another 50-plus aircraft joined the show, along with the Young Eagles Program, which offers free flights for youngsters ages 8 to 17.
"What a great turnout," Griffith said with a smile, scanning the crowd gathered around the aircraft for a closer look. "I haven't been to the Egg Festival since 1973. I remember when they had the Chicken Flying Contest. They would put them on stepladders and poke them with sticks."
Griffith noted that Maine has one of the highest percentages of veterans in the country.
"When we see some of these World War II vets come around to these planes, it gives you goose bumps," he said. "It makes all our efforts worthwhile."
Veteran pilot Warren Pietsch of Minot, N.D., brought the only Japanese M-6 A-2 fighter plane still in existence to the air show.
"It was recovered from the Solomon Islands in the 1960s in really bad condition, and it was restored over a 30-year period by numerous people," Pietsch said. "It's all original, except for the engine, wheels and brakes, which we need to operate in today's environment. It's really fun to fly."
A B-25J bomber named Betty's Dream, with colorful artwork on the nose, drew one of the biggest crowds, as pilot Freddy Caraveo of Houston, Texas, answered plenty of questions about its origin and flying capabilities.
"At almost every show, we get five or 10 veterans who are familiar with the B-25 and two or three who have flown in one. We met a captain today who flew missions over the South Pacific. I think the gentleman is in his 90s," Caraveo said.
Saturday marked the first time that the Young Eagles program came to the Pittsfield Municipal Airport, and volunteer Mike Watson, from China, said that the move paid off.
"Everybody is having a great time. We took about 40 kids up by 11 o'clock, and the lines have been pretty steady," Watson said. "We couldn't be happier."
The purpose of the Young Eagles program is to introduce youngsters to aviation, Watson said. "They get a certificate and get their names in the world's largest aviation log book, kept at Young Eagles headquarters in Oshkosh, Wis.," Watson said.
EEA Chapter 736 secretary Ben Brown, of Newburgh, said the Egg Festival "is a huge draw for the area, so we couldn't be more pleased with the turnout. In addition, we've had the largest turnout of pilots for the Young Eagles program that we ever had. The town, (fixed-base operator) Caleb Curtis and the Egg Festival Committee has been tremendous," Brown said. "Maine Central Institute even provided shuttle service with their vans. We'll be back -- no doubt about it."
Pittsfield Mayor Timothy Nichols, taking a break from the Kiwanis food concession shack, said that this year's Egg Festival "will probably one of the best-attended in the town's history. The weather can make or break one of these events, and you couldn't ask for nicer conditions today."
Doug Harlow -- 612-2367