Santa’s Bag Gets Fuller!

santa_claus_carry_bag_150_clr_748Guilford—They came from over the river and through the woods to help fill Santa’s Bag—Piscataquis Santa, that is. The first day of December brought some winter weather but that didn’t deter folks who visited the  Valley Grange Hall for generous helpings of Barbeque and Bluegrass. The event was a collaborative effort which saw Penquis—the organization responsible for Piscataquis Santa—and Valley Grange, well-known for its support of local schools and children. The event raised over $700 thanks to community support and sponsors.

“This does say a lot about our communities,” said Walter Boomsma, program director for the Grange. “But it also says a lot about our volunteers. All of our food was donated and we even managed to auction off some leftovers and remaining home-baked pies to add to the cause.” Organizers estimate at least sixty meals were served and no one left hungry.

The goal is to provide warm winter clothing (i.e. jackets, ski pants, boots, hats, mittens) and a Christmas gift for children, infant to 16 years of age, who live in any of the five school districts in the greater Piscataquis area (MSAD #4, #41, #46, #68, and Union #60). Parents register their children to receive these items. These items allow children to have clothing that will keep them warm and to receive a gift marked especially for them at Christmas time. With over 400 children already registered, Penquis Office Coordinator Sheree Brown estimates that 700 children will be served through the program in some fashion this year. “Thanks to the support of many individuals, organizations, and businesses, we are very confident we’ll be able to meet every need.”

Brown also notes that parents were invited to write a few sentences about what the program meant to them when they registered this year. One parent wrote, “We have nine children and never enough income, so Christmas is a big hardship for us. This project is such a wonderful outpouring of love and support for the community. We feel truly blessed to be recipients of such generosity.”

Boomsma said he agrees with that parent. “The food was great, the bluegrass music had toes tapping, but the best part of the evening was feeling the love and support of the volunteers and attendees. Collaborations between Penquis and Valley Grange are always good, but there’s something very special about this one. You just knew you were being part of something that is both important and good.”

Music for the evening was provided by members of the Cambridge-based Back Porch Bluegrass Band and Santa himself arrived both to hear the requests of children attending and to say “thanks” to his helpers. A complete list of sponsors and donors can follows. Additional information regarding the Santa Fund is available at


Santa says, “Thanks!”

Barbeque and Bluegrass was a great success!

Special thanks to our sponsors for their generous support–stop by or give them a call to let them know you appreciate it:

      • Engstrom & Tumosa Tree Service – 564-8290 or 876-6907
      • Mallett Real Estate – 564-8073
      • Dover Foxcroft Chiropractic – 564-2211
      • McKusick Petroleum – 564-3406
      • Lovell’s Hardware – 876-2222
      • Walter Boomsma, teacher and trainer – 343-1842
      • Troy Brown, building and construction – 672-5586

And to the many individuals and businesses who helped in so many ways including:

      • Abbot Village Bakery
      • Jim and Sherry French, French Construction
      • Bill Bemis
      • Garland Grange
      • April Sargent
      • Vicki Curtis
      • Jim Macomber
      • Sheree Brown
      • Jessica Davis
      • Parvanah Withee
      • Dennis and Becky Patterson
      • Walter and Janice Boomsma
      • Valley Grange  Pie Makers: Judy Ricker, Cheryl Morin, Mary Annis, and Janice Boomsma
      • Penquis and Valley Grange  volunteers who worked from preparation through clean up!

And, of course, to the many folks who attended… you have helped many children to have a happy holiday–you should too!

 “Our family has had a rough year with one of our children suffering with congenital heart defects and undergoing nine operations and multiple complications trying to repair her heart. This has been very difficult on our family and financially caused us great strain.  Programs like this are what gives us a chance at rebuilding and getting life back on track while still giving our children the joy and fun of the holidays. It’s an amazing gift you give not just the children but the parents as well.”

You can still help–


You’d Better Watch Out! You Don’t Want to Miss This!

Barbeque and Bluegrass!

Saturday, December 1, 2012


The Valley Grange Hall

Corner of Butter Street and Guilford Center Road in Guilford Maine

Barbeque served from 5 PM until 7 PM

BBQ pulled pork or chicken served on fresh Kaiser rolls with baked beans, coleslaw, potato & macaroni salad corn bread and a variety of home-made pies for dessert!

Bluegrass served from 7 PM until 9 PM

Music served by the Back Porch Bluegrass Band

 You’ll eat well, have fun, and help Piscataquis Santa as he provides clothing and a special gift for needy children in the Piscataquis Region. (SAD 4, 41, 46, 68 and Union 60).

Adult Dinner $7, Concert $5, Combo ticket $10!

Child (3-12) Dinner $3.50, Concert $3.50, Combo $5!

Children under 3 years old FREE!

You can download a Santa Barbeque and Bluegrass Flyer with detailed information. We still can use some elf helpers… For more information contact Walter Boomsma. If you can help with food and/or kitchen, please contact Jessica Davis.

Visit the Back Porch Bluegrass Band Facebook Page.

Barbeque and Bluegrass — Piscataquis Santa Event

Here is your resource for information about the Barbeque and Bluegrass event… The event takes place Saturday, December 1st with barbeque being served starting at 5 PM and bluegrass being served starting at 7 PM… Featuring the Back Porch Bluegrass Band!

Download a Santa Barbeque and Bluegrass Flyer with detailed information.

Download a Santa Sponsor Letter and/or Santa Sponsor Form. We need some “elves” to help! For more information regarding sponsorships, contact Walter Boomsma. If you can help with food and/or kitchen, please contact Jessica Davis.

Visit the Back Porch Bluegrass Band Facebook Page.

This event is a joint venture between Valley Grange and Penquis Piscataquis Santa Fund. The Santa Fund provides clothing and a special gift for needy children in the Piscataquis Region (SAD 4, 41, 46, 68 and Union 60). We’ve got it covered from Greenville to Milo to Dexter!

2012-2013 Schedule Announced

Valley Grange’s tentative schedule of meetings and activities has been released following a roundtable discussion during which members discussed opportunities and needs in our communities. While planning a full year is always a challenge, Master Jim Annis notes, “this gives us focus and allows us to manage our personal calendars.”

We’re currently gearing up for Dictionary Days during which every third-grader in SAD 4, 68, and 41 are given their own personal dictionary. Piscataquis Community Elementary School will visit the Grange Hall on October 16th and SeDoMoCha will visit on November 5th. A team of Valley Grangers visits SAD 41 on November 2nd, making stops at Marion C. Cook, Milo, and Brownville Elementary Schools.

A bookworm assembly is scheduled for October 10th to kick off our Bookworm Program. Grange Bookworms will be visiting Piscataquis Community Elementary School twice weekly to read with second and third graders. The more you read, the more you know!

Valley Grange supports the JD Foundation’s annual Keeping Our Communities Warm Project held at 107 Main Street in Abbot from 8 AM until 4 PM. The project provides low and no cost winter clothing to folks who need a little help keeping warm. Donations are appreciated. This year’s project is scheduled for October 13th from 8:00 AM until 4 PM. For more information contact Cheryl Morin at 207-876-2295 or visit

On November 16th we will feature Allagash Tails and Tales, a multimedia presentation narrated by local author and former Waterway Supervisor Tim Caverly. The show includes music, scenic and historic photographs as well as stories detailing Tim’s personal experiences while living in the woods.  This is an opportunity to experience the Allagash in a whole new way and become familiar with Tim’s work with schools. Join us for a potluck supper and book signing at 6 PM before the meeting at 7 PM.

While it’s probably too early to start counting how many days remain until Christmas, it’s not too early to mark your calendar for another one of Valley Grange’s successful collaborations with Penquis. On December 1st, our organizations will join hands to sponsor a BBQ and Bluegrass Event to benefit the Piscataquis Santa Fund. We’re turning this into a family friendly event that will feature great food and great music. Save the date!

These are just a few highlights… you can always download  a copy of the 2012-2013 Schedule right from here. Remember that dates and details can change–particularly when meetings are planned well in advance. Check back when making your plans!

Tramp, Tramp, Tramp…

If you remember the next line (“the boys are marching”) you’ll want to tramp on over to Valley Grange on Saturday, June 2nd for a few hours of Civil War Music and related activities. The day’s activities are sponsored by the Daughters of Union Veterans—Sarah Elizabeth Palmer Tent #23 and will start at 2 PM. The Back Porch Bluegrass band will be featured and the Sons of Union Veterans—Daniel Chaplain Camp #3 will have some additional presentations. Admission is by donation with $5 suggested. Refreshments will be served by Valley Grange and door prizes will be drawn. This is a family-friendly event! For more information, contact Mary Annis at 564-0820.

Cheer up, comrades, they will come.

And beneath the starry flag we shall breathe the air again,

Of the free land in our own beloved home.

Bring On The Sheep!

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy,
“Do you hear what I hear?
Ringing through the sky, shepherd boy,
Do you hear what I hear?
A song, a song high above the trees
With a voice as big as the sea,
With a voice as big as the sea.”

Thanks to the Bluegrass Music Association of Maine for making Piscataquis Santa the beneficiary of the “Jam” they held today in Cambridge… as a result, over $200 in cash was raised… along with a sack of presents… and over 100 pairs of mittens knitted by Debbie Burdin. So there were some voices “as big as the sea” raised today by some folks with hearts as big as the sea too! Thanks to all who performed and all who attended!

If Debbie has her way, there will be some naked sheep running around this year, because she’s already announced she wants to keep knitting… Valley Grange has a few knitters of our own and we are pleased to count Debbie Burdin and Pat Engstrom as “friends of the Grange.” Pat recently donated several afghans to our causes, including one currently being raffled by Penquis Journey House in Dexter.

We’d love to help these knit-wits by providing some yarn to keep those kneedles knitting! Colors really aren’t important–especially for the mittens. If you have any yarn hanging about that you’d like to see put to good use, please send an email or contact any member of Valley Grange.

Donate yarn! Save a sheep from being cold and support a worthy cause!

Come Eat and Sing Friday July 22

Reminder: Bring your school supplies to this or any Valley Grange event to help us with the Smart Starts for Students Program!

Enjoy a traditional grange bean supper any time from 5 PM until 7 PM (unless we run out!)… baked beans, hotdogs, coleslaw and lots of fixin’s… american goulash/chop suey and those famous grange desserts. Then adjourn to the upstairs hall at 7 PM for our “Hootenanny.” The North Country Strings, led by Susan Ramsey, welcomes and entertains audiences with some foot-stomping fiddle tunes as well as popular songs from country, folk, and gospel genres with a sprinkling of back and forth banter and educational snippets. It’s good music done well, featuring something for everyone.  Part of the show involves sing-a-longs in which North Country Strings performs well-known tunes bound to bring back memories and get you singing, clapping, and just plain feeling great!

Best of all… both events are being offered on a donation basis… affordable fun for the whole family! Bring the kids, bring gramma, bring your summer guests or just pick up somebody along the way! We’re at the corner of Butter Street and Guilford Center Road… as we say in Maine, “You can’t miss it.” (But we really mean it–you can’t!)

Hootenanny is an Appalachian colloquialism that was used in early twentieth century America to refer to things whose names were forgotten or unknown. In this usage it was synonymous with thingamagig or whatchamacallit as in “hand me that hootenanny.” Now it most commonly refers to a folk music party.

Come have fun… and help us keep Valley Grange serving the community!

Friday November 19th Hootenanny!

Hootenanny is an Appalachian colloquialism that was used in early twentieth century America to refer to things whose names were forgotten or unknown. In this usage it was synonymous with thingamajig or whatchamacallit, as in “hand me that hootenanny.” Hootenanny was also an old country word for “party”. Now, most commonly, it refers to a folk-music party…

North Country StringsThe North Country Strings, led by Susan Ramsey, welcomes and entertains audiences for the Valley Grange’s “Hootenanny” with fine foot-stomping fiddle tunes as well as popular songs from country, folk, and gospel genres with a sprinkling of fun back-and-forth banter and educational snippets. It’s good music done well, featuring something for everyone. Part of the show involves sing-a-longs in which North Country Strings performs well known tunes bound to bring back memories and get the audience singing, clapping, laughing, and feeling great!

"Fiddlin' Woodsprite"

Tap your toes and fill your tummy! The program starts with grange goodies served at a 6:30 PM “Happy Hour” and refreshments will be available throught the evening. Everything is by donation so this is an affordable evening of family fun! Proceeds from the refreshments will help support Valley Grange’s Words for Thirds Dictionary Program so you’ll even feel good about helping with that!

This is a party you won’t want to miss!

Valley Grange Plans Family Fun!

“The focus of Valley Grange in the fall is getting dictionaries in the hands of third graders,” according to Valley Grange Master Jim Annis. “This year we’re wrapping up that effort with a day that’s all about family fun.” Annis went on to explain that a team of Grange Members will spend the morning of Friday, November 20 visiting elementary schools in S.A.D. 41. “We’ll start first thing in the morning at the Marion Cook School in LaGrange and finish up the morning at the Brownville Elementary School.”

The Guilford based group has made the “Words for Thirds Program” a signature community effort for some years now. A number of fundraisers are conducted throughout the year that make it possible for the Grange to provide every third grader “from Monson to Milo” with their own personal dictionary.” Program Director Walter Boomsma notes, “Grangers like to say ‘The work is the reward’ and that’s definitely true with this program. The kids get so excited!”

The team making the rounds in S.A.D. 41 won’t get much rest after they’re finished because (more…)