Saturday, February 5, 2011

Litterbugs, Part Five – The Dump Festival

Just imagine: an entire festival celebrating garbage!

Okay, that's a slight exaggeration. But there used to be something very much like that in Kennebunkport, Maine. They called it the Dump Festival – I kid you not – and it was an annual thing. As founder Ed Mayo said, "We're honoring the importance of the old-fashioned town dump."

I'm piecing this together from scraps, so my info may be a little off. But it appears the Dump Festival was, at least in part, meant to raise awareness about littering. You could say it was ahead of its time: it began back in 1965.

A highlight of the Dump Festival was the crowning of "Miss Dumpy," the winner of a beauty pageant whose contestants wore outfits assembled from stuff mined out of the local dump.

The Miss Dumpy pageant: good, clean fun

The above photo is from an old issue of National Geographic magazine, which mentioned the Dump Festival in an article about trash and recycling. This woman placed second in the 1981 contest. The winner, whose photo did not scan well, was truly repulsive: her face and arms smeared with green goop, dead fish hanging from a mangled basket covering her upper torso, and – well, you don't want to know the rest.

The Dump Festival featured a parade, too. Like Miss Dumpy's ensemble, floats were constructed from (or at least decorated with) stuff excavated from the landfill.

I first heard of the Dump Festival in that National Geographic article, which dates to 1983. I remembered it when I started the litter and trash theme running through this blog, so I dug it out. Then I turned to the Internet. According to an item I found via Google, the festival was deemed unsafe in the early nineties, so the powers-that-be pulled the plug.

Ed Mayo told Nat Graph that the festival had a simple message: "Litter belongs at the dump, not along the road."

I second that!



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