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Maine Makers Guild receives grant awards totaling $20,000

Feb 12, 2020
Pictured in the Welcome Center of the Maine State House on Tuesday, Feb. 11, are, from left: Emma Morin, treasurer of Maine Makers Guild; Astrig and Steve Tanguay, founders of Maine Makers Guild; Mike Mahoney, chief legal and compliance officer for L.L. Bean; Steve Lyons, director of the Maine Office of Tourism; and Sen. Bill Diamond, chairman of the Maine Bicentennial Commission (Maine200). The Maine Makers Guild is the recipient of both Maine Office of Tourism and Maine Bicentennial Commission grants for its Flaxapalooza festival, which will take place on multiple dates throughout the bicentennial year, celebrating the role of flax in Maine history.

AUGUSTA — The Maine Office of Tourism (MOT) and Maine Bicentennial Commission (Maine200) celebrated their bicentennial grant programs Feb. 11 with special recognition for the Maine Makers Guild, which received grant awards from both entities.

Commission Chairman Sen. Bill Diamond and MOT Director Steve Lyons presented the Maine Makers Guild with a check for $20,000, representing $10,000 grant awards from both MOT and the Commission.

L.L. Bean is sponsoring the Maine Bicentennial Commission’s community grants program as a way to honor and celebrate local commemorations of the bicentennial across communities and towns in Maine.

The Makers Guild of Maine connects regional arts, music, food, the outdoors and cultural tourism to create community impact. For Maine’s Bicentennial, the Makers Guild will use this grant funding to create a unique festival: Flaxapalooza 2020. This festival will celebrate the skills, people and communities that transformed flax, and similar plant fibers, into iconic items that define Maine.

“Maine’s seafarers, farmers and fishermen depended on flax and other fiber plants to make their sails, ropes, nets, sacks and twine,” said Astrig Tanguay, director of the Maine Makers Guild. Flax was also used for waterproofing, shoes, clothing and home furnishings, she said, and “it’s astonishing to think that in the early days all these goods were made largely by hand from plants that grew nearby, and that it was the beginning of an industry that subsequently made textiles for the world.”

As part of the MOT’s Maine Tourism Marketing Partnership Program, the Bicentennial Marketing and Event Grant was created in 2019 to provide support with matching marketing funds to tourism-specific bicentennial marketing projects and events that will drive overnight visitation to Maine during Maine’s bicentennial celebration year (2020).

“The Office of Tourism is proud to take our grant program to another level by assisting worthy initiatives during our bicentennial year. In cooperation with the Bicentennial Commission, it is an honor to help showcase the fiber artists, makers and their distinctive work during Flaxapalooza 2020. We encourage visitors to join us for our 200-year celebration and to experience the land and natural resources of Maine at events like Flaxapalooza and others taking place statewide,” said Lyons.

The Bicentennial Community Grants program provides funding to non-profit organizations for bicentennial-themed projects that benefit the public, such as festivals, historic preservation efforts, lectures and curriculum. The Maine Makers Guild was one of 30 grant recipients in the first round of awards, which totaled $145,000. Two additional rounds of bicentennial commission grant awards are scheduled: Awards will be announced soon for the second round of grant awards, and the application deadline is June 1 for the final round.

“The community grants are the core of our bicentennial commemoration,” said Sen. Diamond, “and we are very pleased to have L.L. Bean, as an iconic Maine brand, supporting this effort to help all Mainers engage with the bicentennial at the local level in addition to the signature events planned to celebrate Maine’s anniversary of Statehood.”

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