A family enjoys ice cream on the steps of Bailey Island Library Hall during the Mingo Club’s ice cream social on July 4. (REBECCA NORDEN-BRIGHT PHOTO)

For the first time since 2019, the Mingo Club hosted its Fourth of July ice cream social at Bailey Island Library Hall. A staple of summer in Harpswell, the ice cream social goes back at least 30 years but was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, the social returned in force, attracting about 400 guests and raising more than $2,000 for the Mingo Club.

The Mingo Club began as a book club for teenage girls on Bailey Island in 1906. In 1909, after the construction of the Orr’s Island Library, the girls began raising funds for their own building. In 1912, the goal came to fruition with the construction and dedication of Bailey Island Library Hall. The hall earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.

Today, the Mingo Club is no longer made up of teenagers, but its adult members continue to raise funds for the preservation of Library Hall. In addition, the club maintains its dedication to literacy and education through its sponsorship of grants for high school graduates who live in Harpswell, as well as book donations to Harpswell Community School.

The Fourth of July ice cream social is the modern Mingo Club’s primary fundraising mechanism. This year, the club raised prices slightly, to $3 for one scoop, up from $2 in 2019. Visitors could choose from a wide variety of toppings — including strawberry sauce made from strawberries hand-picked by Mingo Club members — for no additional cost.

For the first time, the social was primarily an outdoor event. Visitors went up to the Library Hall front porch to get their ice cream, then sat on the front lawn or at tables under a tent behind the hall.

“We did that because of COVID, but we hope we can continue it that way because it’s a lot easier,” said Ann Mitchell, publicity chair for the club.

“The line out front was long, but nobody minded because they were all chitchatting and having a good time,” Mitchell added.

The funds raised from the ice cream social will allow the Mingo Club to sponsor two $1,000 grants for graduating seniors and provide $500 in book donations to Harpswell Community School.