Like the drink, Moxie Festival is bittersweet after founder dies

Moxie Festival without its founder

LISBON FALLS, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - It's time for the Moxie Festival in Lisbon Falls.

For the past 35 years, people have been flocking to the town to celebrate the drink that is an acquired taste.

But, one very important part of the festival will be missing. The famous 'Mr. Moxie' - the founder of the festival - passed away just a few weeks ago.

“It's very - and I'll use Frank's word – bittersweet,” said Anicetti’s sister, Cathey Bienkoswki. “He always referred to Moxie as bittersweet. It's bitter because he's not here. And [what they’re doing] is sweet.”

A legend - "Mr. Moxie" himself - brought life to a former Maine mill town with a sip of a soft drink.

“And so, the world became sunny again,” said Bienkowski.

Is Moxie made in Lisbon falls? No.

Invented there? Still no.

But thanks to a man full of moxie - it became the town's most well-known treat.

“It's kind of genius that he knew 'This is my opportunity to see the world, I'll get them to bring it to me,’” said Anicetti’s niece Allison Evans. She said that unlike her mother, Uncle Frank never got the opportunity to leave Lisbon Falls and see the world. So instead – he found a way to bring people to his town.

Even after Mr. Moxie’s death, his legacy lives on - in the form of a restaurant where his store used to stand - appropriately named “Frank's.”

The Austin family bought the building on a whim, but discovered in the process that they were distant cousins.
“I think [he would say] 'wow,'” said Traci Austin. “I think he'd be proud.”

The Anicetti family knew the Austins were the right ones to take on the job.

“Frank was very concerned that the building would be ripped down and another gas station would be put in,” said Bienkowski. “Like the world needs another convenience store,” she added sarcastically.

“Once upon a time it was really amazing here,” added her daughter, Evans. “And I’m glad they're able to bring that back a little bit.”

Just over a month after his death, it's going to be a tough weekend for Mr. Moxie's family.

“It's much too close,” said Bienkowski. Her brother died on May 22nd. “We're still processing it. My family has very mixed feelings about everything. I mean, like, this is the family's store and it's not anymore.”

But she and her daughter know that he's looking down with his famous stubborn attitude, and smiling.

“He'd be tickled inside to know that he started something that has really given the town some life,” said Evans.

“Frank’s” restaurant is opening with a limited Moxie-filled menu for the festival weekend of July 7. Starting on July 19, the restaurant will be open with a full pub-style menu.

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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