SEARSPORT — The town’s annual Fling into Fall was hindered by the pandemic in 2020, but was back in traditional style with some fresh faces Saturday, Oct. 9.

The day kicked off with a cars and crafts event at Searsport High School. Dozens of classic car owners, as well as several Maine crafters, assembled to show off their vintage vehicles and handmade goods. Craft vendors included Frankfort couple Cindy and Jim Ellis, attending the event for the first time.

They sold floral arrangements in handmade wooden containers. The crafts are a team effort — Jim creates wooden flowerpots shaped like trucks, ducks, wheelbarrows and more, and Cindy is in charge of painting and floral arrangements. The two have been crafting for several years — “I’m known for my Christmas gnomes,” Cindy said.

Rose Woodward of South Thomaston also showed up for her first year with some crafts. She sold handmade potholders and oven mitts, saying that she loves sewing and has been crafting for “too many years.” Another couple, Daniel and Katelyn Kilpatrick, offered handmade pet bandannas and jewelry with the help of their dog, Sparky.

Rose Woodward with her sewing crafts at Searsport’s Fling into Fall Oct. 9. Photo by Cali Warren

Searsport Fire Department Capt. James Morton has overseen the classic cars portion of the event for 11 years. There were 63 vintage vehicles registered, with every registrant given a voting ballot to determine the top 30. Morton said his favorite part was seeing people having a good time.

A 1972 Chevrolet Impala, owned by Susan Sawtelle of Bucksport, on display as an entry in the Fling into Fall car show. Photo by Cali Warren

One of the staples of Fling into Fall is the bustling parade that travels up Main Street. Hundreds of people gathered to observe the spectacle, while fire trucks, motorcycles and Bear Cubs, among others, handed out candy to youth in the crowds.

The Wild Spiritz, a local group of female motorcyclists, donned rainbow tutus and Halloween masks to ride in the event, with bubble machines on their bikes. “We always have fun,” said President Jessica LeSur, who lives in Searsport. She and her friends have been riding together for three years, and have visited nursing homes, attended Fourth of July events and participated in Camp Capella’s Polar Plunge in their group’s history.

The Fling into Fall parade makes its way down Main Street in Searsport Oct. 9. Photo by Cali Warren

The parade also featured the Dunlap Highland Band, a community pipe band that practices in Oakland and Old Orchard Beach. The group was decked out in kilts and fur for its first time playing in Fling into Fall. “Token Scotsman” Jimmy Rodden was the band’s drum major.

Searsport Cub Scout Pack 215 rides in the parade during Fling into Fall Oct. 9. Photo by Cali Warren

Bangor Savings Bank sponsored a scarecrow decorating contest, with several local organizations getting creative. The Women’s Fellowship created a “Fling into Falls” scarecrow dressed as Annie Edson Taylor, a woman who became the first person to survive a ride over Niagara Falls in 1901. Hamilton Marine made a friendly lobsterman scarecrow, complete with a life jacket, yellow beanie, and a huge smile.

The winning children’s scarecrow, dubbed “Scary Crow,” featured a crow dressed in typical scarecrow attire. The display showed Scary Crow going trick-or-treating with his scarecrow friends.

Carver Memorial Library, which won first place for Group Scarecrow, created a display inspired by the children’s book series Elephant and Piggie. It also had a basket of free children’s books available.

A scarecrow of Annie Edson Taylor, sponsored by the Women’s Fellowship, at Fling into Fall Oct. 9. Photo by Cali Warren

Along the other side of Main Street, the Searsport Lions Club and Searsport Historic Preservation Commission lined up with information about their groups. The Lions Club sold baked goods to raise money for its charitable projects, including buying glasses for low-income individuals and sponsoring seeing eye dogs. Lin Calista, chair of the Searsport Historic Preservation Commission and Searsport town columnist for The Republican Journal, had a table selling town-related memorabilia to raise funds for her organization. The commission is committed to “preserving and educating” — for historical monuments and the betterment of the local community.

Photo by Cali Warren

When the parade was over, a chowder, chili and apple pie tasting contest was held at the Searsport Public Safety Building. The three judges were Searsport residents Mary Brann and Faith Garrold, along with Curt Olson, evening meteorologist for WABI TV5. Olson described himself as a “chowder, chili and dessert connoisseur,” joking that he’d abstained from eating for the past couple of days to save his appetite for the event.

Searsport resident Jessica Hall had the honor of the winning chowder, while Rex Kelly, also of Searsport, created the winning apple pie. The best chili award went to Kelli Grindle-Stone of Belfast. Samples were available to the public for a small fee that raised funds for the next Fling into Fall.

Sandra Otis-Anderson, Fling into Fall committee co-chair, oversaw the cooking contest. “It’s a good turnout,” she said, describing the event as the “last hurrah” of the summer season. She was joined by Marcia and Mike Pelillo, a couple who helped serve up public samples of the chilis and chowders.

The event wrapped up with a public fireworks display at Mosman Park.