NEWBURGH, Maine (WABI)- Last fall, Ben Herbest, a Newburgh resident and senior pastor of the Bread of Life Church, started asking if there was any plan to hold a town celebration, the way other towns do.
He found that not only had Newburgh not held a "Newburgh Days" celebration in a number of years, but this year is also the town's Bicentennial.
And there were no plans in the works to celebrate that either. So he did what a pastor does. He prayed.
"The first thing that came to my heart was to bring restoration to the brokenhearted and the broken spirit, but to bring unity to this community," Herbest said. "So when this opportunity to come up to make a committee and celebrate Bicentennial for Newburgh, I started meeting with a team, and they've run with it. My passion became their passion."
You might think Newburgh is nothing more than a place to get gas off 95, or the home of Ricky Craven. But there is quiet history here if you dig for it. Newburgh is home to Ski-Horse Mountain, a once functional ski mountain used by a private association, who’s old lodge now serves as Herbests home. Hiding in the brush at the bottom of the hill is the old rope-tow that pulled skiers back to the top. The mountain was made into a ski slope by Jenny Johnson’s dad, and she has fond memories it as a kid.
"We had a pretty neat thing out here," said Johnson. "We had a pond where we could go ice skating, in the summer we had a place where the horses could be kept, and in the winter we skied. So it was a big deal and a lot of fun."
Newburgh’s Bicentennial is a true example of how a community event can come to fruition; the idea of one pastor, who formed a committee, who got the town to donate money for food and fireworks. Then the fire department volunteered to cook, and now any leftover proceeds from the celebration go back into Newburgh’s heating fund.
"I know there's been a lot of grassroots effort and a lot of work going into the planning of this, so I think it'll be a lot of fun," said Jasper Walsh of Newburgh's Puckerbrush Farm. "It'll be great to see people bring their families out, bring the kids out to celebrate, there are a lot of neat activities going on. We're super excited for it."
And while 200 years is a big deal, according to Herbest, it’s really just a catalyst for something more.
“When we can come together for a sole purpose, it can bring unity to the community just by saying let's celebrate together, as a family of Newburgh."