Top business stories from the St. John Valley
Editor’s Note: The following is the second of two articles highlighting some of 2020’s most important and interesting business stories. This article highlights events from July through December.
The St. John Valley Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Board of Directors honored their senior interns with money to help offset the cost of college textbooks. The Madawaska Class of 2020 students did things such as answering phones and managing the chamber website along with other office tasks.
The town of Fort Kent and multiple local businesses benefited from $184,000 in Community Development Block Grants. Fort Kent Director of Planning and Economic Development Steve Pelletier successfully applied for the funding.
The Jake “Break” Snack Bar opened for business in Allagash. The new outdoor dining establishment offered food items from lobster rolls to ice cream to a dozen flavors of popcorn.
A New Canada haskap berry farming family expanded their business. Haskap berries, which resemble pendulous blueberries and taste like a cross between a blueberry and a raspberry, are rich in vitamins and antioxidants.
Owners of the former Mill Bridge restaurant opened Barry’s Kitchen in Fort Kent. The restaurant serves up traditional American cuisine including chicken, steak, seafood and burgers.
Tyra’s Pooch Parlor in Frenchville was awarded a $50,000 grant to expand services. Certified canine cosmetologist Tyra Michaud owns the popular Frenchville business, and plans to expand her retail space and build a dog park with the grant funds.
Walkers Pub in Fort Kent donated lobster dinners to local health care workers. The business donated the meals in appreciation and respect for the health care workers’ efforts to keep the elderly safe throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fish River Rural Health was one of 1,318 health centers across the United States to receive quality improvement award grant monies. The Department of Health and Human Services, through the Health Resources and Services Administration, awarded the funds.
The 12th annual Fort Kent Fire Association Chicken Barbecue Fundraiser sold out well in advance of the event. Next year the volunteer firefighters plan to prepare more of the popular meals, which help support the fire department through the purchase of firefighter dress uniforms and fire equipment.
The annual Greater Fort Kent Area Chamber of Commerce Scarecrow Festival took place in an abbreviated format due to COVID-19. The theme of this year’s Scarecrow Festival event was “Don’t Let 2020 ‘Scare’ You.”
Labels Trading Post, a licensed firearms dealership, opened on Main Street in Fort Kent. Proprietor Dana Gardner said he was inspired to open the business because the St. John Valley lacks gun dealerships.
A Fort Kent family business moved to a new storefront just down the road on Main Street to make more room for growing inventory. Tech N Trenz offers name-brand clothing for men and women, footwear for men, women and children, fashion accessories as well as computer, phone and tablet repairs.
Katahdin Trust Company was named as one of the 2020 Best Places to Work in Maine. It was the third straight year the business received the honor through the Society for Human Resource Management — Maine State Council (MESHRM) and Best Companies Group.
Tardif Farms in St. Agatha produced some giant potatoes. While staying at his summer place on Long Lake, Bruce Bernier of Connecticut photographed his girlfriend, Joann Cardini, holding two potatoes from the farm weighing in at more than four pounds each.
The Madawaska Athletics Booster Club raised $6,000 from the annual Ford Drive 4 Ur School fundraiser event. Pelletier Ford and the club held the event virtually due to COVID-19 concerns.
The 40th annual Greater Fort Kent Area Chamber of Commerce Arts and Crafts Fair changed its long-standing format this year to avoid the spread of COVID-19. The revised craft fair combined with the Chamber’s Small Business Saturday event, which encourages people to shop local in preparation for the Christmas holiday.
Big Rick’s Burgers and Wings of Madawaska provided hundreds of Thanksgiving meals to members of the community. Every year, Ricky Nadeau, owner of Big Rick’s Burgers and Wings, collects food and puts together turkey dinners to deliver to those who are in need, alone or just overwhelmed.
Roy’s Variety in St. Agatha added 24-hour gas pumps to its line of services due to grant money the store received. The pump station was purchased with a $50,000 Community Development Block Grant for which St. Agatha Town Manager Aubrey Michaud applied.
A Fort Kent woman offered grocery delivery and other services during the COVID-19 pandemic for St. John Valley people who felt safer staying at home. Nichole Jandreau opened Odds and Ends as a home-based business in October.