Dear Members and Friends of the WW&F:
Every Work Weekend at the WW&F is like a family reunion to all of us. Folks come from near and far, to celebrate, laugh, reminisce, dine, and hang out together – all while accomplishing the various work that needs to be done on our beloved railroad. Like any great family gathering, we are comfortable and open with each other – while working (sweating) and playing in close proximity. It is a joyous occasion that we all look forward to.
Our bi-annual Work Weekends are not unlike a wedding that occurred in Millinocket just a few weeks ago – a celebratory gathering of family and friends who all came to an isolated Maine resort to share a joyous occasion. As you may have heard, this has since turned to sorrow, as seven people have now died from the Coronavirus spread amongst those who gathered that day.
In light of that incident, it is with deep regret that the WW&F Board of Directors decided that in the best interest of all of us, the Fall 2020 Work Weekend is cancelled.
Various options were considered, including “socially distant” crews working on isolated tasks – much like what occurs now amongst the handful of volunteers that congregate on regular workdays. However, with the date of the Fall Work Weekend fast approaching, coupled with limited travel and lodging options, it was determined that such a plan would be impossible to develop and execute in the coming weeks. Moreover, public train service is scheduled on Saturday of the Work Weekend – and the possibility of foreign work crews intermingling with passengers (who are limited in number and must adhere to our COVID-19 safety policy) produces too high of a risk that our joyous event could also turn tragic.
For Spring 2021 – should precautions still be necessary – advance sign ups for specific dates and crews may be required. All participants will be required to adhere to any state-issued mandates regarding mask use, travel restrictions, lodging, quarantining, and the like. It is also probable that lodging in the attic of the Percival House, on-site camping, etc., will be tightly regulated. Meal preparation and distribution (arguably one of the highlights of the weekend) will have to be rethought. Finally, there will be no public train service during the Spring 2021 Work Weekend.
Until the Millinocket spreader event occured, it had been our intent to hold the Fall Work Weekend in some way, shape, or form. We apologize for the last minute notice; our intent is to joyously welcome all of us back to Sheepscot in 2021.
On a similar note, the WW&F Board of Directors have also cancelled the 2020 Victorian Christmas; look for revamped Christmas-themed trains and gatherings in 2021. Likewise, the WW&F has opted out of participating in the January 2021 Amherst Railway Society Railroad Hobby Show in West Springfield, Mass. While we are saddened that we will not be able to see our friends at these events, we look forward to the day that we can gather together once more.
David J. Buczkowski, President
On behalf of the WW&F Board of Directors and leadership team.