The months of July and August are packed with opportunities for social and educational events on both Little and Great Cranberry Island. There are posters on the mail boat, posters at the town docks, and posters at the post offices advertising a feast of activities from which to choose.

On Great Cranberry Island, the Cranberry House is a new cultural center for the island. It is the home of the Preble-Marr Historical Museum, a collection of island artifacts that was originally housed in the Longfellow School, adjacent to the island library. When a new site became available for the Great Cranberry Island Historical Society (GCIHS) collection, the society bought the old Mountain View Inn from island resident, Eva Galyean. The building was once the home of a restaurant favored by “rusticators” in the1920’s. On November 16, 2004, the island landmark was moved a quarter mile up the main road to its new home next to the parsonage.  After four years of tireless volunteer efforts, generous contributions from local donors and GCIHS members, and support from the MBNA Foundation, the New Century Community Program and the Island Institute, the Cranberry House opened its doors on June 15, 2008. There was an island wide celebration with a ribbon cutting ceremony on the morning of July 4.

In addition to the Preble-Marr Historical Museum, the two-story Cranberry House features a multimedia center, a computer lab, and archival and utility rooms in the walk-in basement. The museum shares the ground floor with a kitchen that serves delicious lunches, baked goods and ice cream for people to enjoy at the Hitty Cafe with tables on the expansive deck outside. The second floor contains a large multipurpose room and a bathroom. The whole building is handicapped accessible, including a lift to the second floor. There is also a public path from the Cranberry House to the sand beach at Whistler Cove. On June 7, National Trails Day, Terry Towne of the Maine Coast Heritage Trust supervised dozens of volunteers in building the Cranberry House Trail that includes over 300 feet of “bog bridging.” Among other things, the Cranberry House can boast the only advanced fire sprinkler system in the Cranberry Isles.

Many of the social gatherings on Great Cranberry used to take place at the Ladies Aid building. Now on the schedule of summer events, from the web site, activities at the Cranberry House will include: A geology tour and lecture, a talk on Great Cranberry Isles Pioneers: 1750’s to Early 1800’s, three days of Children’s Crafts, a free concert by “Audrey Noether and Friends,” a free concert by the Ricky Baker Duo, and a free concert by the Acadian Chamber Players; annual meetings of the Cranberry Isles Realty Trust and the GCIHS, workshops for digital photography, watercolor painting, and poetry; an invitational art exhibit, and weekly Monday movie nights. The museum is open every day in the summer from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Sept. 21, with a special summer exhibit:  “Enterprising Islanders.” Admission is free but donations are gratefully accepted.

Of course the new Cranberry House is not the only game in town when it comes to activities and events. The Ladies Aid Community Center still hosts such gatherings as Firemen’s Suppers, coffee hours after church, wedding receptions, community sings, and Little Girl tea parties. At the Great Cranberry Library there is a Children’s Story Hour every Wednesday at 10:30 a.m., several scheduled art exhibits, and a children’s program in August with author, Robin Swain. There are tennis lessons on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the island tennis courts, Gary Allen’s wild and wacky Cranberry Ultra Marathon all over the island, the 108th annual Ladies Aid Fair at the Community Center, anytime visits to the Whale’s Rib Gift Shop, and the annual Music and Poetry Evening at the Congregational Church, where there is a worship service every Sunday morning.

Great Cranberry Island was also a favorite place of artists John Heliker and Robert LaHotan, who spent many productive summers here. Their lovely home overlooking the Pool, is now part of the Heliker-LaHotan Foundation, which offers an artist in residence program “for painters and sculptors of established ability.” The first two artists of the summer, Adu Gindy of Duluth Minn. and Susan Demchak of Cambridge, Mass. opened their studios to the public on July 5. Later in July, resident artists will be Kamilla Talbot, Michael Herstand, and Tim Ford, offering more opportunities for open studio visits.

For nine months out of the year, Great Cranberry Island has a population of 40. In the months of July and August there are at least 10 times the number of people on the island and enough scheduled activities to provide something to do for everyone. And that is without mentioning the visiting relatives and houseguests, the dinner parties with old friends unseen since last summer, the impromptu musical gatherings, boating excursions, and picnics.

At this time of year, the term “current events” has more to do with carrying a calendar than keeping track of what is happening in the larger world.  If you run out of things to do on Great Cranberry, just pop over to Little Cranberry for a meal at the Islesford Dock Restaurant, a visit to the Islesford Museum, a stop at the Islesford Artists Gallery, the Islesford Pottery shop, Winter’s Work for a piece of fudge and some shopping, a piece of pizza at the Islesford Market, a play presented by the Islesford Theater Project, the annual Islesford Fair, weekly sailboat races, Tuesday movie nights at the Neighborhood House, Literary Evening, the annual Maypole Dance…