Monday September 17, 2012

LEE -- A firefighters competition and a beefed-up Sunday schedule highlight an expanded Founder's Weekend celebration.

The Lee Firemen's Muster is one of several additions to the upcoming annual three-day event this weekend in an effort to attract more visitors to the popular downtown festival, according to organizers. The muster is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at the Lee Athletic Field.

"We're glad [the muster] is coming back," said Danielle Mullen, executive director of the Lee Chamber of Commerce. "We've been asking for its return for several years."

The town's volunteer firefighters last hosted a muster in 2006. This year's competition will feature at least seven area fire companies squaring off in several activities such as battling an oil fire and "Midnight Alarm" -- which team can respond the fastest to a pretend fire.

Glenn Wilcox, a muster organizer, says the event will likely draw people who might not otherwise attend Founders Weekend.

"A lot of the teams bring their wives and families, who often go off and do their own thing," Wilcox said.

Since the majority of people attend Founders Weekend on Friday and Saturday, organizers this year have additional music and vendors scheduled for the final day.

"We're excited about the Sunday schedule," Mullen said. "There are a few more events, but the day is still low-key compared to the others."

The big draw on Friday is the "Taste of Lee." Area restaurants and local food vendors line the sidewalks on both sides offering their favorite dishes while local talent performs at various Main Street locations. Main Street from Saint Mary's Church to the town park will be closed to automobile traffic from 4 to 9 p.m. in order to make the event more pedestrian-friendly.

The road closure was instituted last year in order to accommodate the growing number of people partaking in "Taste of Lee," organizers said.

Except for the "Hometown Parade" on Saturday, Main Street will remain open to vehicle traffic for the rest of the three-day celebration.

The hour-long parade steps off at 11 a.m. and runs the length of Main Street, ending on Housatonic Street. This year's grand marshal, Richard "Dick" Shields, president of Dresser-Hull Lumber and Building Supply Co., will lead the march.

Mullen said Shields was chosen because he and his staff are such an integral part of the town's business and civic community.

"Every time the chamber or someone else needs help, [Dresser-Hull] is right there," she said. 

Highlights ...

Founders Weekend features three days of events from Friday to Sunday this weekend (Sept. 21-23). For a complete schedule of events, go to leefounders weekend.com. Here are some highlights: 

On Friday ...

♦ 10 a.m.-8 p.m.: Main Street Sidewalk Sales 

♦ 3-5 p.m.: Creative Lee Annual Art Show. 

♦ 5-8 p.m.: Taste of Lee on Main Street. 

Saturday ...

♦ 11 a.m.: Lee Chamber of Commerce Hometown Parade.  

♦ 1 p.m.: Lee Firemen’s Muster, Lee Athletic Field.

♦ 4-8 p.m.: Festival Latino, park next to Town Hall 

♦ 8-10 p.m.: “Lee Idol” finals at the Spectrum Playhouse, Franklin Street. 

Sunday ...

♦ 8-11 a.m.: Kiwanis Annual Pancake Breakfast at Saint Mary's School.  

♦ 9:30 a.m.: Roko Dog Park Awareness Tag Sale, park next to Town Hall. 

♦ Noon: Moonshine Holler performs at the Railroad Street gazebo 

♦ 2 p.m.: The Eagles Band at the Spectrum Playhouse.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233.