2018-01-25 / Community News

Bacon Street Festival wins award

The City of Biddeford has been awarded one of 181 awards among 16,377 communities, U.S. territories and military bases nationwide, for the 10th annual Bacon Street Festival and neighborhood revitalization efforts. The awards are given annually by The National Association of Town Watch based on evaluation of a required report and selection criteria.

The National Association of Town Watch is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the development and promotion of organized, law enforcement-affiliated crime and drug prevention programs working in conjunction with citizens and nonprofits to “take back neighborhoods.”

During the last 10 years the city, various nonprofits, property owners, the city’s police, code, public works, fire and recreation departments, Biddeford Housing Authority, and interested residents have worked to revitalize the Bacon Street neighborhood. The efforts began with a park constructed by Project Canopy and followed by cleanups, barbeques, neighborhood meetings and the installation of another green space, flower boxes, a playground and community garden. Crime and vandalism have been reduced.

In 2008, the neighborhood decided to hold a festival to showcase its efforts and that it is a good neighborhood. Interested participants acting as a committee heard about National Night Out and decided to participate through the festival. The all volunteer festival was held for approximately $50 and became the first Bacon Street Festival. Approximately 300 people attended and could not believe the changes the neighborhood had made. It was decided to hold a second annual Bacon Street Festival the following year where approximately 600 people attended. The event is free and games, snacks, pony rides, music, food and prizes are given out to children. A report has been sent annually to the National Association of Town Watch including the efforts made in the neighborhood throughout the year. The festival has grown every year.

“It was a real surprise when the letter came in saying that the city had won an award again for everyone’s efforts,” said Linda Waters, community development coordinator. “We competed against communities up to a population of 50,000. We are the only Maine community awarded. We are very honored and encouraged.”

The city is also listed as an award recipient on the organization’s website and in its newsletter. The city has won eight awards.

The neighborhood will begin planning for the 11th annual Bacon Street Festival in February.

“We work hard to make every donation and penny stretch to make the festival a fun family event and show what neighbors can do when they take a stand against negative activities,” Waters said. “Other revitalization efforts have also taken place this past year including the rehabilitation of the former rectory building at 73 Bacon St. The first floor is occupied by the Alternative Pathways Center and the Community Bicycle Center, and the second and third floors will consist of three housing units. The neighborhood also is beginning to plan for its future through the Bacon Street Neighborhood Planning Committee that will be holding some public meetings in the spring.”

For more information on the festival, revitalization efforts or how to improve area neighborhoods, call Waters at 284-9105 or email lwaters@biddefordmaine.org.

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