The 11th annual convention at the end of February, a morning of food, limericks and costumed competition, drew 116 people. Someone is bestowed the "Breeder of the Year" title and, in the past, the group has also offered up a presidential candidate. ("The Blackfly party is the only political party with both a right and left wing," says Garner-Jackson.)
"You figure they have a lot of cabin fever. They'll go to anything," Dowling said.
There was, however, a cloud over this winter's convention: Organizers announced, to great outcry, that it was intended to be the last. Right now, it's at something like "we'll see" status. What's certain: another float in the Machias Fourth of July parade.I didn't know there was anything good about the nasty little biters (the flies, not the group) , but here's the scoop:
"We try to get as many people to come and be black flies," Garner-Jackson said. "They wear black. We give them a set of wings and some red stickers and a kazoo. So they run through the crowd playing their kazoo and then they put red stickers on people (pretending to bite them)."
A first-place parade win in 2000 and its $1,000 prize kicked off the association's charitable bent. Members split the money among an animal shelter, hospice, food pantry and Big Brothers Big Sisters. Since then, mostly from merchandise proceeds, it's given away thousands, Garner-Jackson said.
That's it. Keep Maine underpopulated. Don't want the world knowing about a good thing.
- They're indicative of clean water. They're bird and fish food.
- They help pollinate blueberries.
- And, not to be overlooked: "They help keep the people population down," she said. "We don't want it to get too crowded."