|87 Years of Tradition|
Sponsored by the Casco High School Alumni Association, the first annual Casco Days celebration was held in 1935. The grand total earned the first year was $374.04. The earnings were divided between the Alumni, the Grange Hall, the Casco Village Church, the Fire Department and the South Portland American Band for coming all the way to Casco to play.
In comparing the 1935 Casco Days to the 2015 Casco Days, many changes have taken place. In 1935, the main attractions were horse pulls on the Leach Hill Road, water sports on the shore of Pleasant Lake and baseball games played between town teams. The Grange Hall served meals, plays like “The Old Peabody Pew” were performed in the church and the penny pitch proved to be the biggest attraction on the midway. In 2015, we took in over $120,000 compared to $374 in 1935.
The Grand Parade draws a large crowd, thanks to Tom Hancock, longtime past chairman and Bob Thibodeau and Melissa Kluge, the current grand parade co-chairmen. In the early days, the cast from “The Old Peabody Pew” would ride in the stagecoach of G. Albert Murch of South Casco. Today, floats come from surrounding towns, and in recent years a new category of “Family and Friends” has brought local families together in creating the float most viable for first place. The local camps also have very creative floats!
Jim & Sally Willey manage the food booth, taking over from Ralph Maines who ran the food booth after over 50 years of management by Richard Frank and his daughter, the late Roxanne Craig. The food booth first was located on the church lawn. It then moved to the front of the Town Hall and is now situated in the Casco Days Barn, where it requires the largest staff to sell and cook all the food sold at Casco Days.
The midway has grown over the years and much of that growth can be attributed to long time chairman Dave Hancock. Dave was particularly passionate about the midway and the games. We now have more games than we have ever had, the best prizes and the friendliest “carnies” around operating the games since we use all local volunteers! Dave always made sure we remembered our roots and included the old “penny pitch” somewhere on the midway.
Ralph Maines had been in charge of the Beano Tent from 1976 – 2000, after taking it over from Ken Hancock, but has since passed it along to Dave Morton and his daughter, Jennifer. Game and Beano prizes are purchased on a buying trip in June to Boston where the dealer has been the same for many, many years. Ralph and Dave Hancock had gone on this traditional trip for about 40 years, first as children with Dave’s father.
In 2015, Casco Days grew with its 23rd year of sponsorships, a great fireworks display, Rick Charette and his Bubble Gum Band, the old time favorite Beano tent and much, much more! Casco is the only area town that has successfully and continuously staged this type of Carnival. The Casco Day Fair Association board meets annually to determine how to disperse the proceeds from the event—community organizations and local sports teams have benefitted, and we reinvest back into the event, park, and ‘Red Barn’. The Casco Day Fair Association owns and operates the rides, including the antique Ferris wheel and carousel. Thanks to a local volunteer staff of over 200, Casco Days continues to flourish.
Some of the above material was taken from Melissa J. Kluge’s book, The History of Casco, Maine.