Sunday, July 19, 2015

unique business offers venue for live action role playing games - By Elizabeth Richards

At Burgundar people can immerse themselves in a fantasy world, playing alternate versions of themselves in live action role-playing games (LARP). “This version could save lives, be a master pickpocket, conjure spells or go mad,” said Noah Hersom, who owns and operates the LARP venue in Harrison with his wife, Crystal.
Burgundar, a forest and medieval village set on 11 acres, opened last year. All summer, the venue hosts games that are a mixture of theater, athleticism, and shared storytelling, Hersom said. 

“The combat is especially fun. We use foam padded weapons to simulate medieval combat, and have to really strike an opening on each other to make a hit. Strikes are pulled and done carefully so they don’t hurt but you can feel that you’ve been struck.”

After Crystal showed him a documentary about LARP, Hersom began searching for groups in New England. He came across the Maine Adventure Society Inc. (MASI). He and Crystal pieced together some garb, he bought some leather armor, and they went to try it out. “It was probably the most fun we had had in our adult lives,” he said.

His love of the hobby inspired Hersom to want to run a game, but the MASI venue is close to two hours away, in Jefferson. Deciding that southern Maine was a great place for a LARP venue, he began to build the village and structures in the forest. Crystal taught herself to sew and made masks. “Together, we registered Burgundar LLC and have been giving it our all ever since,” he said.

This year, Burgundar has really taken off said Hersom. Local players are extremely dedicated, and the CEO of MASI, Truax McFarland, along with many other MASI members helped build some of the structures, helped the Hersoms learn the ropes, and come to play their games. Their first event this summer broke a personal record with 27 attendees. 

It wasn’t always so smooth. Last year, said Hersom, having only 14 participants come out for their first event was difficult. “But I decided to truck on, and I’m so glad I did,” he said. 
Currently there are two campaign games running, which occur one weekend every month throughout the summer. One is a dark-ages fantasy game called Mystwood, influenced by Warhammer, Lord of the Rings, and actual medieval history. The other is Beyond the Wall, influenced by Game of Thrones. Both of these games work well for new players, Hersom said, making it a great time to jump in to the hobby. Each campaign game has had its first event of the summer, but both are designed so that new players can join in anytime without missing out on too much of the plot, said Hersom. The next Mystwood event is July 17th, and the next Beyond the Wall takes place on August 7th

There is also a single weekend event, scheduled for September 5th and 6th. This combat-oriented event is run by the local Dagorhir chapter, Nordanmork. Hersom described it as a very intense, full-contact event, which is a lot of fun for those into really simulating a medieval battle.

A full schedule of events can be found on their Facebook page. “Getting involved is as simple as showing up,” said Hersom. “We have garb we loan to new players and staff that can go over the basics of the rulebook right there.”  For those who like to prepare in advance, rulebooks, and a new LARPers handbook are available on their website at

Everyone hearts Raymond festival meets expectations - By Michelle Libby

Raymond held its first every Everyone hearts Raymond, ME festival this past Saturday with a Medal of Honor ceremony, a parade and a carnival like event at Sherri Gagnon Park. 
“It went awesome. It exceeded our expectations,” said Danielle Loring, director of development for the Town of Raymond and co-organizer. 

It was estimated that between all of the events approximately 300 people turned out to share their love of Raymond. “For our size, that’s really good,” said Loring. There were also amazing volunteers, according to Carrie Colby, the other co-organizer. 

Although the day was overcast, people were still willing to be in the dunk tank, eat snacks from the snack shack and have cotton candy. Loring also thought the vendors we pleased with the turn out. The committee also brought in $500 in donations toward next year’s event. They did not charge for cotton candy or slushies, but donations were accepted. 

Loring felt the parade was the greatest success of the day because of the ability to close down the roads and have positive support of the parade. Although the parade was small, the spectators lined the roads.
“When we saw that parade come down the road toward the ball field, we could have cried,” said Loring of herself and Colby. 

Colby was pleased that the Raymond Fire/Safety Department and the Sherriff’s Department ran the whole parade, from setting the pace to making sure everyone was safe. 

The feedback so far has been positive with many people volunteering to help next year. 

“We couldn’t ask for a better result for the first year,” Loring concluded. “Carrie was a wonderful co-coordinator and I will continue to work with the revitalization committee with this.” 

On July 16 at 8 a.m. at The Donut Shop on Route 302 in Raymond, anyone interested in giving feedback and helping with next year’s event should be in attendance. They will discuss what didn’t work and how to improve the event. 

One suggestion they will work on is attempting to bring together more community events into this one. If they are under one umbrella it will add diversity, said Loring.  

Donn Fendler packs the house at the Gray Public Library - By Michelle Libby

When Donn Fendler speaks, people come to listen. As was the case Tuesday night at the Gray Public Library, when author and adventurer Donn Fendler of “Lost on a Mountain in Maine” fame, spoke to multiple generations of fans about his story. When Donn was 12 he got separated from his family while hiking on Katahdin and spent nine days in the wild on his own. 
“It’s affected so many people in the State of Maine,” Donn told the crowd of 75 on Tuesday. “I was just a dumb kid who got lost and got lucky and came out alive.” 

Now at the age of 89, next month, Donn travels to schools, libraries and other venues to talk about his experience, hoping to help hikers of today not make the same mistakes he made. 

The book “Lost on a Mountain in Maine” became a book read in most fourth grade classes throughout Maine. Recently Donn with Lynn Plourde released “Lost Trail: Nine Days Alone in the Wilderness” a graphic novel about the events and what happened before and after he was lost.

“I’ve never seen so many multi-generational people at a library event,” said Gray Public Library director Josh Tiffany, MLIS said. Both books were sold at the event by Letterpress Books.

He doesn’t get tired of his fame “not for one single second,” he said. In the winter, he answers letters with handwritten letter to anyone who writes to him. When people ask him how he survived he tells them three things. 1. “I’m not overly religious, but faith and God and prayers worked because I’m standing here.” 2. Boy Scout training. “It taught me to calm down as best you could and try to find your way out of the mess you got yourself in.” 3. “How tough you ladies and guys are. I had the will to live. I never thought about dying.”  

“You’ve got to know Maine people. Stubborn, self-reliant and outdoor lovers,” he said. 

During the presentation he spoke about the clothing he wore to climb the mountain. Sneakers, no socks, jeans, underwear, sweatshirt and jackets, his sneakers were the first to go and he spent eight days barefoot on an old tote road. When he was found, his feet were cut to the bone in places and he only had his jacket, a shirt and a gunny sack he had found in the woods, which he used to sleep in to keep the mosquitoes from biting him. 

He described himself as “never much of an eater of food.” He ate one cup of strawberries while out there and lost 16 to 18 pounds over the nine days. 

He had some injuries after the journey, but nothing life threatening and he figured that that was because he was in the water so much. 

Donn chose to follow the river to civilization, a tip he learned in the Boy Scouts. The only wildlife he encountered was deer and two black bears. “That was the scariest part of my life,” said the military veteran. “I said a few prayers of thanks there.” 

He doesn’t remember the exact route he took or the days when things happened because he was passing out quite frequently. 

On the last day, he was following what he found out after was the East Branch of the Penobscot River, he saw two cabins and was rescued. 

“I’m crying because I’m so darn happy,” said Donn during a 1939 video that was taken of his rescue and of when he was reunited with his mother. He estimated that he covered between 40 and 50 miles over the nine days. 

He said he has never had flashbacks or dreams about that time. 

He has been back to Katahdin and back to the cabin he was taken to once he was found, however he got a bit lost getting there. When he stopped for directions the man asked, “Are you the little boy who got lost on the mountain?” 

When Donn answered “yes”, the man said, “You’re still lost.”

Summerfest - perfect day, community fun and yummy food

Last Saturday people from Windham and all over the area joined in the Windham Summerfest celebration. From live entertainment, tasty delights and spending time with family and friends, Windham came together to put on a community event that provided a day’s worth of fun. 
The parade kicked off at 10 a.m. featuring the Windham Police Department and Windham Fire and Rescue Department, antique cars, Shriner’s, and local Boy and Girl Scouts. At the Windham school complex on Route 202, vendors lined the roads to serve up food, snacks, games and history. 

On the main stage, entertainment varied from Flamin’ Raymond and Sizzlin’ Susan and balloon animals to country music and lively pop covers by the Veayo Twins Trio. 

The evening ended with fireworks put on by Central Maine Pyrotechnics. As always, it was a rousing success. 

Winners in the frog jumping contest
(Distances jumped in 15 seconds.)
1. Dillon with Frogzilla 328"
2. Mason with Hopper 252"
3. Kyle with No Name 216"
4. Benny with Froggie 177"
5. Mark with Pickles 169"
6. Isaiah with Storm 140"
7. Bria with Splitz 121"
8. Eliana with Pickles 111"
9. Lillian with No Name 75"
10. Amelia with Max 52"