Concertgoers take in a show at the Harpswell Bandstand by the Sea in August. (BILL MULDOON PHOTO)

During its first 10 years, the Bandstand by the Sea became Harpswell’s community gathering spot for wonderful musical performances on warm summer evenings. Its mission has never wavered: to offer music as a joyful, unifying force in our town. With planning underway for the start of our second musical decade in 2023, dedication to that mission is more sharply focused than ever.

When I stepped into the leadership role of the town of Harpswell’s Bandstand Committee earlier this year, I was filling some very large shoes. Bob Modr chaired the committee for its first 10 years. It was Bob, along with Dan Huber and many contributors of finances and labor, who brought the bandstand into being and solidified its place at Mitchell Field. During the past 10 summers, thousands of Harpswell residents, friends from nearby communities, and summer visitors have been entertained by performers across the musical spectrum.

We are grateful for this success and are now ready to expand the vision. For example, we are planning a small holiday event at the bandstand on Thursday, Dec. 8. With a decorated bandstand, seasonal sounds, hot chocolate, and friends, we’ll embrace the chill of the early evening. In the late winter and early spring, we’re exploring indoor musical events on Orr’s Island and in Cundy’s Harbor as we spread music and community to other sections of our town under the banner of the Harpswell Bandstand by the Sea.

It’s critical to understand how we pay the talented musicians who join us for performances. The town of Harpswell owns the physical structure and annually provides funds for maintenance and other needs, such as electrical improvements. But we, the Bandstand Committee, are tasked with raising all the money to pay performers. This year, the cost for musicians and promotional materials approached $15,000.

Looking ahead, we plan to diversify our funding streams to include sponsorships, grants, and possibly a spring fundraising event, as well as the “Johnny Cash” donation box present at every concert. The Johnny Cash box is a true star. During the 2022 season, a record $7,600 was collected. Big thanks to everyone who came up to donate — and, of course, get a chance to win a gift certificate from Pammy’s Ice Cream Parlor!

Several times I’ve used the word “community.” This past season brought a great example of how gathering at the bandstand for music and friendship can also benefit other aspects of our town. In June, the Bandstand Committee was asked by the Harpswell Neck Fire and Rescue team about bringing the rescue unit to the bandstand on Thursday evenings in July. The idea was to engage folks and potentially recruit new rescue drivers. As a result of that effort, five new volunteer rescue drivers were recruited. They have been undergoing training this fall and will soon be fully ready to serve. So next summer, when you’re at the bandstand enjoying great performances, warm breezes, and a spectacular sunset, remember it’s more than just music, it’s our community.

Bill Muldoon chairs the Harpswell Bandstand Committee. A photographer, he serves on the boards of several nonprofits.