Friday, June 21, 2024

Strawberry Festival nears at Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Boyhood Home in Raymond

One of Southern Maine’s beloved annual events, the Strawberry Festival at Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Boyhood Home at 40 Hawthorne Road in Raymond returns this year from 6 to 7:45 p.m. Saturday, June 29.

The Strawberry Festival will be held at Nathaniel 
Hawthorne's Boyhood Home at 40 Hawthorne Road
in Raymond from 6 to 7:45 p.m. Saturday, June 29.
Reservations are suggested. FILE PHOTO 
This year’s special guest speaker will be award-winning author/editor Tess Chakkalakal, professor of Africana Studies and English at Bowdoin College. Chakkalakal is creator and co-host of this summer’s podcast series from Maine Public Radio entitled “Dead Writers: Great American Authors and Where They Lived.”

Admission is $15 for adults and $5 for children aged 8 and under, with reservations at or by calling 207-329-0537.

Reservations are strongly recommended but walk-ins also are welcome.

Wrapping up the event, all attendees will enjoy yummy homemade strawberry shortcake, served with coffee, punch, and lots of friendly smiles.

Those who would like to donate to the ongoing restoration of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Boyhood House in Raymond may do so by sending a much-appreciated check payable to “Hawthorne Community Association” to: Hawthorne Community Association, P.O. Box 185, South Casco, ME 04077.

Secure credit card, debit card, and PayPal donations may be made online at

The Hawthorne House is the boyhood home of the legendary author of The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables in Raymond and has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places since 1969.

Author Nathaniel Hawthorne was born on July 4, 1804, in Salem, Massachusetts, a descendant of William Hathorne, a Puritan who emigrated with his family from England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Hawthorne’s grandfather John Hathorne was a judge who presided over some of the Salem Witch Trials.

Hawthorne’s mother was widowed when he was age 4 and after living for 10 years with relatives in Salem, the family moved to a home near Sebago Lake in Raymond built for them by Hawthorne’s uncles Richard and Robert Manning in 1816. He lived there with his family for three years until being sent to boarding school in 1819, but later in life, said the time he spent at that home was indeed the happiest period of his life.

For Strawberry Festival reservations and other information about the Hawthorne House, send an email to or call 207-329-0537. <

Cryin’ Out Loud band to perform at Windham Summerfest

By Kendra Raymond

With the countdown to Windham Summerfest well underway, festival fans are starting to make plans to join the festivities. Whether you’re looking for some great eats, parade excitement, crafting exhibits, field day activities, or live music – there is something for everyone.

The Cryin' Out Loud band is typically known for playing
blues but at Windham Summmerfest, they will also perform
popular songs from the 1960s to the present day and a lot
of original music. SUBMITTED PHOTO
This year, the Summerfest theme is, “Summerfest Turns Back Time.” What better way to “turn back time” than to listen to some great tunes from the well-known group Cryin’ Out Loud? Typically known as a blues band, COL performs well-known songs from the 1960s to the present day. This band packs a punch; In addition to popular tunes, the band also plays a variety of original music.

Band member Jim Fratini says that the current iteration of the band has been together for about two years. Last year the band found themselves opening for the Grammy-winning guitarist and producer Paul Nelson, who took on the job of producing their first Album “Play Loud and Smoke Often.” Paul passed away earlier this year.

The band consists of Brandon Stallard on guitar and vocals from Lamoine, Ben Chute on guitar from Damariscotta, Jim Fratini on bass and vocals from Winterport, and Bob Evans on drums from Bangor.

“As a veteran musician of the Bangor music scene, I have had the opportunity to play with some of the greatest musicians in Maine,” said Fratini. “There is nothing like being part of a group of musicians that are bringing their talents to a stage and having people enjoy what they are presenting.”

A middle-school science teacher by day, Fratini incorporates fun musical elements into his classroom. Students enjoy learning through his laid-back attitude and interesting connections. A veteran student recalls Mr. Fratini’s class fondly by saying “A lot of teachers don’t realize the importance of arts and personal connection to learning. Mr. Fratini’s classroom was always a space to have fun and learn in a relaxed and productive environment.”

Fratini has been heavily involved in the Maine Invention Convention, a competition created to promote creativity, forward thinking, and confidence in middle school-aged students.

Former student and Invention Convention winner Nolan Raymond says that Frantini’s class was special.

“Mr. Fratini always incorporated creativity and music into his class. By encouraging kids to think outside the box, we were able to tap into the more nuanced ways of looking at things.”

Fratini shared the exciting news that Pilot Light Records has announced that its blues-rock artist Cryin' Out Loud has broken the Top 10 of Roots Music Report (Blues Radio Chart) on their recent album "Play Loud and Smoke Often." The album was produced by the late Paul Nelson, Grammy Award winning guitarist of Johnny Winter.”

Fratini said that the Cryin’ Out Loud CD is now available on all music platforms. Produced by Nelson and recorded in Bangor, their debut release is highly anticipated and inspired by the likes of The Band, The Allman Brothers Band, Little Feat, and of course all the blues greats. There is something for everyone on this album and it’s full of brand-new originals and features guest appearances from Erik Lawrence, Paul Nelson of the Paul Nelson Band, and Ana Popovic’s renowned keyboardist, Brooks Milgat.

“Maine truly has an outstanding musical community and supportive venues that support live music,” said Fratini.

COL is set to hit the main stage at Summerfest from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday at Windham High School. <

To learn more about Windham Summerfest, visit

Check out the COL website for more information to learn about upcoming shows at <

Friday, June 14, 2024

Netflix’s ‘Unfrosted’ a sweet movie

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 1 hour, 37 minutes

Breakfast – arguably, is the most important meal of the day. In the 1960s, cereal was the king of breakfast until the invention of a rectangular-shaped confection would change the breakfast game forever. Who would be first to reach this milestone, Kellogg’s or Post? And at what cost? “Unfrosted” tells the story of the invention of the Pop-Tart. Although large parts are maybe more than slightly embellished, this is a fun movie which brought a smile to my face and a rumble to my stomach.

“Unfrosted” stars Issac Bae, Jerry Seinfeld, Melissa McCarthy, Rachel Harris, Christian Slater, Jim Gaffigan, Amy Schumer, Kyle Dunnigan, Max Greenfield and many more.

A boy (Bae) walks into a diner and orders two Pop-Tarts and tells the waiter to leave the box. He reads a cartoon on the side that explains how Pop-Tarts got its name. A man (Seinfeld) tells him that’s not how it really happened and asks him if he wants to hear the real story; the boy says make it quick.

In the early 1960s, breakfast was defined by milk and cereal. Battle Creek, Michigan is where breakfast juggernauts Kellogg’s and Post battled it out.

At the 1963 Bowl and Spoon Awards, Kellogg’s cleans up winning almost every award. Post executives, Marjorie Post (Schumer) and Rick Ludwin (Greenfield), are visibly upset about this but have something up their sleeve.

Bob (Seinfeld) who has been trying to crack the fruit pastry equation is struggling. Post may have been trying to steal Bob’s work.

Whomever gets into the fruit pastry business first means big trouble for the other company.

Bob needs to figure it out first, he wants to send his kids to college and it’s as much as $200 a year.

Bob needs help and requests a former associate of his, Donna Stankowski (McCarthy), also known as Stan. Bob and Stan work together again.

“The magic of cereal is eating and drinking with one hand,” says Bob.

July 20, 1963 – Kellogg’s develops its first ever taste pilots; a group of celebrities and others to help in the development and promotion of the new fruit pastries. When asked about nutrition, fitness guru Jack LaLanne says sugar is poison, so they’re working on something called high fructose corn syrup.

In order to secure the upper hand, Bob and Stan fly to Puerto Rico where they meet with El Sucre, who controls 99 percent of the world’s sugar supply.

Kellogg’s creates “the Dingus” as a fruit pastry prototype, but it’s a bust. Kids know what will work for breakfast – you just combine whatever you have.

Bob and Stan have split the atom of breakfast.

Post retaliates by heading to Moscow to get sugar.

All this pastry talk has upset the Milkmen (led by Slater), who depend on cereal to keep their business going.

The Milkmen capture Bob. After some time, the cereal mascots (led by Thurl Ravescroft) go on strike.

I remember the excitement of getting a box of unfrosted Pop Tarts and eating them before -or after- school or on a Saturday morning when I was a kid in the early 1990s. And seeing this movie made me want to see if Pop Tarts are just as I remember them. While the origin story is mostly untrue, there are multiple things that actually did happen in the “breakfast wars” as well as many historical jokes and references throughout this movie.

The casting for “Unfrosted” is incredibly well-done with several big-name stars giving standout performances. I enjoyed the breakfast-based humor and while I’m unfamiliar with what the 1960s looked like, parts of the movie had a real old-fashioned feel and look to them, which I enjoyed. There’s slapstick comedy and the movie advances at a good pace. It also features many hit songs from this time period. I recommend seeing this delicious comedy.

Two toasters up!

Now streaming on Netflix. <

Friday, June 7, 2024

Windham Public Library’s summer schedule approaching

By Kaysa Jalbert

The Windham Public Library is hosting a summer of reading, fun and exciting programs, kicking off on Monday, June 17 with the opening of registration for the Summer Reading Program. All summer long, the library will travel to different outdoor events, host unique guests and hold hands-on learning experiences for all ages.

The Windham Public Library will offer
reading programs all summer for all ages
under the theme of 'Read, Renew, Repeat.'
“Library cardholders of all ages will find a reading program to join and events to attend all summer long,” says Jennifer Wood, Windham Library Director. “This year’s theme is Read, Renew, Repeat and our programs will follow this theme of conservation.”

Starting Saturday, June 15, the library will be off-site at the Windham Farmers’ Market every other Saturday from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Visitors can get a new library card, pick-up reserved holds for that week, drop off returns or check out something from the new inventory.

Following the Summerfest parade on Saturday June 22, the library will have a booth at the Summerfest venue from noon to 4 p.m. where participants can sign up for one of the Summer Reading Programs and see what events are in store for the summer.

On Wednesday June 26, visit the Maine State Society for the Protections of Animals in Windham for a library story time with horses. They will read books and follow the normal story time routine, then make time for questions and visiting with horses. The event is aimed at children ages 2 to 7 and will be held from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. The Maine State Society for Protection of Animals is located at 279 River Road in Windham.

Also on June 26, the library hosts a smoothie making program for children ages 2- to 6-years-old. Kids can learn how to make their own smoothies and learn different recipes. This event will take place at the Windham Public Library from 2 to 3 p.m.

The library will host Mr. Drew and His Animals Too with Windham Parks & Recreation at Windham Middle School from 2 to 3 p.m. Wednesday July 3. Mr. Drew and His Animals Too is an education center and exotic rescue in Lewiston. This event is for ages 3 and up to get a hands-on educational experience with reptiles.

In July, families can also enjoy a Garden Party at 3 p.m. Monday, July 15 to explore ways to build and support healthy, happy and sustainable gardens indoors and outdoors. Later, from 1 to 5 p.m. July 29, art supplies will be scattered in and around the library for a Family Art Day for families to get messy, have fun and make art.

Starting July 12 and running through Aug. 16, the event Fun with 4-H will take place at the library every Friday from 10 to 11 a.m. Aimed at children ages 4- to 9-years-old, this event is an introduction to animal science with a representative from 4-H, a community of more than 100 public universities across the nation that provide hands-on experiences for youth development.

One highlight of the author discussion program, Wood said, is hosting local author Monica Wood at 6 p.m. Wednesday Aug. 7.

“Monica is a wonderful, local author and a staunch library supporter,” the library director said. Her newest work called “How to Read a Book,” was published in May.

In addition, the library will have regular programming for story times, books and babies, author talks, movie showings, cribbage and anime clubs, tech help, teen crafternoon, sign language class and outdoor movement. A calendar with dates and times for all events is available on the Windham Public Library website.

The Windham Public Library also has several Adventure passes to local museums and parks. The passes are checked out to cardholders and allow free or reduced entry fees to Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Portland Museum of Art, The Children’s Museum of Maine, Southworth Planetarium, Dundee Park, Maine Wildlife Park, and Maine State Parks.

The Windham Public Library Summer hours are Monday and Wednesday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Fridays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., closed on Saturdays through Labor Day and on other summer holidays. Ther library is at 217 Windham Center Road in Windham.

For further information and more details about the summer calendar of events, visit or call 207-892-1908. <