The first winter carnival in 1936, which was sponsored by the Lions Club, became probably the biggest vent in Camden for quite some time. The first queen to reign was Priscilla Bates of Camden. A large parade made its way through town, and the Queen's Ball was held in the Camden Opera House. The Queen and her four ladies-in-waiting won by the number of votes their received.
A coupon in the Camden Herald was worth 10 votes and, as tickets to the Winter Carnival were sold by anyone who wished to do so, the stub counted for a number of votes. If you were running, or a friend of yours wanted to be Queen, then you got out and sold tickets, asking if they wanted the stubs. If they did not you could cast them for your favorite. In my case it was an older sister that I wanted to be queen. so I went door-to-door selling as many tickets as I could.
Dorothy Mitchell was the second queen to be crowned. The coronation was held in a crystal court located in front of the lodge house. Her ladies were Gwendolyn McKay of Camden, Lolita Knight and Lois Jacobs of Rockland and Martha Anderson of Warren. That evening a carnival ball was held in the Camden Opera House. There were many interscholastic sports such as skating and hockey. On Sunday there were horse races, wood-sawing contests, potato races on skates, figure skating and trap shooting.
Coronation of Queen in 1938.
In 1938 Mary Bryan was crowned on a beautiful throne of ice in the library amphitheater. The ladies were Elizabeth Pitcher and Nancy Hobbs of Camden, Lea Fransen of Union and Winona Robinson of Warren. Again the ball was held in the Opera House. Prizes for each queen were boxes of candy, silk slips, electric lamps, boot bindings and boots, hair nets and passes to the movies. By today's standards the gifts may not seem great, but in the days of the Depression, all prizes were very welcome. Gov. Lewis O. Barrows attended the carnival, as did about 10,000 other people.
By 1939 the whole affair was really growing. Phyllis Packard was crowned queen in the opera House on Friday night and in the library amphitheater on thrones of ice the next day. Her ladies were Mary Hatch, Thelma Hendrick and Janet Rider of Camden and Pauline King of Union. Adding to the coronation were train bearers, crown bearers, trumpeters, torch bearers, Frigidaires, Iceland choristers and the Queen's jester. The program booklet cost 10 cents, but even at that price, several of us would usually share.
There were three days and three nights of horse racing, hockey, taking tobogganing, and dancing on the ice (the Big Apple was the dance craze then). Figure skating exhibitions were a big attraction, as was dogsled racing. The ski town was in operation by Feb. 2, 1939, and the toboggan chute was illuminated. It was quite a thrill when the handle was pulled and the toboggan was suddenly down on the ice, while your stomach on the hill where you started!
The reigning queen in 1940 was Lucie Dickens, with the ladies being Mildred Durkee and Natalie Smith of Camden, Kathleen Anderson of Thomaston and Norma McEdwards of Union. Many local people assisted with all the work associated with putting on the Winter Carnival. Some of the names that come to mind are George H. Thomas, Harold Corthell, Eugene Rich, J.H. Hobbs, Burt Stevenson, Hester Ordway, Mrs. Walter Rich, Mrs. Eugene Rich, Stanley Frye, Robert Smith, Elmer Crockett, Roland Richard, James Brown, Allen Payson, Philemon Pitcher, Mrs. Kenneth Green and many, many more. Sled-dog racing was a highlight of the carnival, although there was little snow. Fifteen teams went over the trails that the Camden Conservation Camp made possible.
The sixth and last queen to reign was Doris Moody of Lincolnville Center, with her ladies in waiting: Marion McDermott, Ruth Manning, Edna Fuller and Phyllis Staples, all of Camden. A snow less Snow Bowl had another successful carnival, with all the usual activities.