Dear Village Friends, Members, “Family”, Volunteers and Supporters –
The Boothbay Railway Village entered into 2020 with bright expectations for the year ahead. This year we secured funding for a new education initiative which would bring in a new Director of Education and create an interactive online access to explore our curated collection. We planned an exciting line up of events to celebrate Maine’s 200th year and eagerly anticipated seeing old faces as well as new return to enjoy the Village.
And then along came COVID-19………
As 2020 evolved, the planning of the Village’s fifth-sixth season continued with the staff working hard on various improvements to our displays as well as infrastructure. The Village secured a coveted grant to aid in our “Maine 200” celebrations at the Village showcasing artisans on the grounds as well as new events to highlight Maine’s history. We began our search for the new Director of Education & Curator and were fortunate to add to the Village’s resources Lori Reynolds to further develop our events as well as shape our messaging through social media. Agreements were in place for a couple of major donations to improve the Village’s collection which included a 1923 Buick (we hope to have on the grounds by June) and improvements to the Village model railroad display were ongoing with the addition of a G scale display in the works. All in all, the Village was buzzing in January and February away from the public eye with aggressive programs and goals ahead for 2020.
After months of the Board and staff wrestling with the realizations and impact that COVID-19 meant to the Village (both to the safety of our staff and guests), the Board met on Thursday, May 28, 2020 and voted to close the Village for its 2020 Summer season – suspending its public programs, opening and our “Maine 200” celebrations planned for June to September 2020 to the Summer of 2021. The Board viewed the crisis that COVID-19 imposed as an opportunity whereby the Village’s full-time staff could be focused solely on tackling much needed upgrades and repairs to the Village’s buildings that “good weather” during the Summer months would afford without the public being on the grounds day-to-day. The Board’s decision included its recommitments to those goals made in October 2019 to (a) developing an outreach program with a full-time Director of Education by October of this year, (b) upgrading the Village’s website as well as its social media platform or content, (c) further developing our capacity to be a venue for private events and gatherings, (d) cataloguing our collection as to be available for others to view, (e) improving the Village’s displays and collections, (f) hiring an additional full-time buildings and grounds staff member as well as a full-time railroad shop member, (g) continuing the preservation of our railroad rolling stock with the restoration of Maine’s last narrow gauge RPO coach in existence (Coach No. 11), (h) a new business model for the Village store, and (i) to offer an “Adopt-A-Project” program for those who wish to volunteer this year. The Village’s planned “Capital Campaign” will be rescheduled for 2021 but we will still be actively pursuing any available grants to support the Village’s 2021 programs. The Village will resume its public availability (pending on Maine’s guidelines that may evolve over the next three months or so) as to still be the venue for the Boothbay Charities’ auction in September, hosting the Fall Foliage Festival on October 11-12, 2020 with the Boothbay Information Center and hold the Village’s ever so popular North Pole Express from Thanksgiving weekend into December. Furthermore, all memberships that expire in 2020 will be extended an additional year (into 2021) – with the hope that those who are not members, you will consider the Village as a non-profit you will adopt and support.
Even though the Village will not be open to the general public this Summer, know the Village will be very much alive and moving forward – we welcome your involvement and inquisitiveness. Feel free to call the Village if you have an interest in volunteering this year and check our website or Facebook page periodically to see what will be evolving over the months as we are closed. We look forward seeing you on the grounds the next few months and particularly at those Fall and Winter events being held this year at the Village.
Charles E. Bamberg
President, Board of Directors
Boothbay Railway Village