FREMONT — Since it was founded as the town of Poplin in 1764, Fremont has hosted four significant riots in American history and was once home to the country’s oldest cooperage.
Ninety years after its incorporation, residents successfully petitioned to rename the town after John C. Fremont, a well-known explorer and U.S. senator who was the country’s first Republican presidential candidate.
This week, Fremont celebrates its 250th anniversary with a four-day extravaganza aimed at bringing the community together.
“It’s an opportunity for older residents and newcomers alike to enjoy and appreciate the heritage of this town and the people who helped make this community such a special place to live,” said Fremont Town Historian and 250th Anniversary Committee Chairman Matthew Thomas. “This town has a fascinating and colorful heritage, and we have five state historical markers in town as a tribute to all the unique history that’s happened here.”
The festivities actually began on June 7 with an old-time baseball game and continued Sunday when the Fremont Beauty Pageant was held at Ellis School.
But the formal celebration begins with the Spirit of Fremont Night Thursday, at the town’s Memorial Fields at 563 Main St., with music from the Paul Prue Band at 6:30, a Fremont historic slideshow at 8 and a movie at 8:15 on the Fremont Park’s and Recreation Department’s new outdoor screen. Complimentary snacks and beverages will be offered.
At 6:30 Friday, at the town’s historic meeting house, members of the Fremont Celebration Committee will present a gift to the town in the form of the 1802 Town Pound, which has been restored just in time for the big event. Traditional Scottish music will played, courtesy of the Strathspey & Reel Society.
The centerpiece to the entire semiquincentennial event is Saturday’s 250th-Anniversary Field Day Celebration at Peterson’s/Brookvale Farm at 152 Martin Road, where the annual New England Grass Drags competition takes place.
“We have a number of nice little things happening that will make that a special day,” said Thomas.
A classic and antique car show takes place from 9 a.m. through 5 p.m. More than 50 food and craft vendors have reserved spaces at the farm, and there will be plenty of games, bouncy houses for the kids, the ReMax hot air balloon, and a Fremont north side vs. south side tug of war. Reenactors from the 1st Newmarket Colonial Militia and the Sixth Maine Civil War Battery will set up an encampment, and there will be R/C model airplane demonstrations from the Fremont Flyers. The NHATV club will be on exhibit and tractor hayrides will be offered.
Performances are planned throughout the day from Dot Wiggin of Fremont’s The Shaggs band, High Range, Side Effect and the Stepping Out Dance Academy.
The Timberland Community Band provides upbeat tunes from 7:15 to 9:15 p.m. concluding with the 1812 Overture, which leads into a professional fireworks show that Thomas promises will light up the Saturday night sky. Everything but the pyrotechnics is scheduled rain or shine. The fireworks will be held at the same time Sunday night if inclement weather prevails Saturday.
The final day begins with a pancake breakfast from 7 to 9:30 a.m. at the People’s United Methodist Church, and is followed by a non-denominational church service from 11 a.m. to noon at the town’s meetinghouse. The Fremont Historical Museum will also be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and the Hibernian Bagpipe & Drum band performs from 1 to 3 p.m. A cake cutting ceremony is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. with a town photo to follow at 4:30. The semiquincentennial celebration concludes with a cannon firing at 5 p.m.