SKOWHEGAN — The crowd mustered up the best moose call it could and let it rip:
For more than 30 seconds, the hundreds of men, women and children who packed the grandstand Saturday at the Skowhegan Maine Moose Festival belted out a collective nasal groan, seeking to break the Guinness World Record record for moose calling.
To do so, the contest required that at least 995 people not only be in the audience Saturday at the Skowhegan State Fairgrounds, but also replicate a moose call and maintain it for 30 seconds.
Maine Master Guide Roger Lambert led the crowd on a test run to see if the callers, who didn’t need any training or experience, could produce a “cow call.”
“Moose calling is duck soup,” Lambert declared. “There are some people that do it naturally just because.”
“Not, bad, not bad, not bad,” Lambert said. “I’ll tell you, we can work with this.”
In the front row of the grandstand sat Judy Lambert, 45, and her mother, Nellie Davis, 71, of Saco.
The mother-daughter moose hunters cow-called with all their might, convinced Skowhegan officially will break the world record.
“We’ve gone to the last four festivals, in Caribou, Kittery, Bethel and at Cabela’s in Scarborough,” said Judy Lambert, who is no relation to Roger Lambert.
“I had a big moose barbecue,” she said.
Lambert said she did not enter the lottery because she has to wait three years to do that, according to the rules, though her husband did enter this year. Her mother, who is retired from 40 years as a machine operator at Corning Medical Inc., got an 861-pound moose in 2003.
The pair said they thought the Skowhegan moose festival is the best one so far because there were so many activities, as well as live music, food and vendors.
“I love it,” Davis said. “It gives me a reason to get out of the house for a while.”
The three-day festival, which started Friday, is sponsored by Main Street Skowhegan.
Main Street Skowhegan Executive Director Kristina Cannon said the official word about whether the Skowhegan crowd broke the Guinness record for moose calling will not be announced for about three months.
“We have to go through a significant number of steps,” she said. “We have a camera looking toward the grandstand so we can count bodies. We have wristbands, 30-plus volunteers counting people who are not (moose) calling. This is very technical.”
By all accounts, the festival exceeded expectations and the weather was perfect — sunny, breezy and warm.
“We are thrilled with the amount of people who came out for this event,” Cannon said. “It’s been said that this could be record-breaking — the crowd — and we are so happy to have people coming to Skowhegan, and hopefully they’ll come back to visit.”
The festival was the setting for the annual Maine Moose Lottery conducted by the state Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, which administers a drawing to select winners of Maine moose hunting permits.
Nate Towne, chairman of the Tourism Council’s board of directors, said the organization touts everything happening in the Kennebec Valley, from Gardiner up to Jackman, including the Maine International Film Festival, which will be held next month in Waterville. Towne is publicist for that event.
The council also advertises the best places to hike, paddle and take part in other fun activities.
“It’s a free service we offer,” Towne said.
Moose festival events continue Sunday with a 7 a.m. maple breakfast in Constitution Hall at a cost of $10 for adults and $5 for children under 12. The breakfast will be followed by horse-drawn wagon rides, live music with the Old Liberty String Band, exploratory activities for children and archery and BB-gun ranges.