Franklin Countys First News

Hong Kong students, visiting UMF, check out Wilson Lake

Students from Hong Kong at the boat ramp on Wilson Lake.

WILTON - Undeterred by the scattered showers, the streets in the downtown were full Friday afternoon, as the 36th annual Wilton Blueberry Festival kicked off its first day of events. Among them were special guests from the HKMA David Li Kwok Po College in Hong Kong.

Twenty students from the school are in Farmington for two weeks, working with University of Maine at Farmington English Language Learner students and pre-service teachers. The participating UMF students work with their Hong Kong counterparts as part of a 16-credit ELL Certificate program designed to prepare new teachers to meet the needs of linguistically diverse populations. The Hong Kong students spend two weeks in Maine, working on improving their English language skills while participating in Maine activities such as trips to Acadia and Rockland, local farms and camping.

One of those activities was visiting the Wilton Blueberry Festival. As part of the annual festivities, the Friends of Wilson Lake host free boat trips onto the lake. According to Sandy Muller, FOWL's boat coordinator, this year the organization used six boats to provide 257 people with trips, despite the rain.

Of the 20 students Hong Kong students participating in UMF's ELL Certificate program, five and an administrator took the trip.

Elsewhere in Wilton, the Blueberry Bazaar at the First Congregational Church did brisk business, as did vendors camped out along Main Street. Firefighters from the local departments provided families with rides in fire trucks, while Arizona Rose and the Rich Ric Band performed under a tent.

Tomorrow, the festival's iconic parade will begin at 9 a.m. This year's theme is Christmas in August. A complete schedule can be seen here.

Firefighters help kids into the East Dixfield truck.

At the Blueberry Bazaar at First Congregational Church.

FOWL provided more than 250 people with free boat rides Friday afternoon.

At Kineowatha Park.

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