At any social gathering in a person’s home, the partygoers almost inevitably migrate to the kitchen. There are other rooms, of course, most likely with more comfortable furniture and conversation pieces, but there’s just something about the kitchen that draws them in. It’s where the food is. It’s where work gets done. It’s the soul of the house.

“It’s always a gathering room,” said Gale Longo, organizer of Eastern Maine Medical Center Auxiliary’s annual Kitchen Tour at noon-4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26. “People are always drawn to it. It’s casual, and it’s comfortable. And we have a lot of really beautiful kitchens that we showcase on our tour.”

The tour is an annual fundraiser for the EMMC Auxiliary, which allows participants a sneak peek into some of the most beautiful homes in the area. Three tour spots are in Hermon, and include the homes of Debbie and Ed March on Mountain View Drive, Joan and Jason Buck on Copper Ridge, and Beth and Barry Mroczka on Timberview Drive. In Bangor, the homes of Dan and Elanna Sykes on Broadway and Hilda Hutchins McCollum on Kenduskeag Avenue are featured, while the Veazie home of Ellen and Bruce Flagg rounds out the list.

The kitchens featured are very different from one another. They range in style from the elegant kitchen in the historic Bangor home owned by the Sykes, to the sunny, bright kitchen of the Flaggs in Veazie.

The Flaggs’ kitchen features such highlights as a step-back cupboard refinished by Ellen Flagg, newly refinished floors, and her personal favorite, a dining room table that’s been in her family for three generations.

“I think comfort and color are the things I went for in our kitchen,” said Ellen Flagg. “It feels very warm in here. I think the yellow walls really make it unique. I love this room.”

This year, all funds raised go to the Champion the Cure Campaign for EMMC’s CancerCare of Maine. New to the tour in 2009, however, is the addition of the Kitchen Tour Tasting, an event from 2 to 5 p.m. at Wellman Commons on Union Street. More than 20 vendors will showcase Maine-made foods in a tasting and sale organized by Ann Marie Orr of Ann Marie’s Kitchen.

“We had Maine-made items to sample at all the kitchens last year, and everyone wanted to buy the stuff they sample,” said Orr. “We figured: Why not bring them all into one spot? Everyone will get a chance to try stuff and buy stuff. It’ll be a neat kind of marketplace to show off what Maine has to offer.”

Some of the many wares for sale at the Kitchen Tour Tasting include selections from Bar Harbor Jam Co., the Levant-based Daily Bread bakery, goat cheese from Olde Oak Farms in Orono, chocolates from Black Dinah Chocolatiers on Swan’s Island, and, of course, Ann Marie’s Secret Sauce, which Orr makes herself in Bangor.

“I never knew there was such great stuff right in our own backyard. Ann Marie knows all these great people all over Maine who make really amazing food. She’s been such a wonderful resource,” said Longo. “I know I’m looking forward to trying some of it.”

Previous EMMC Kitchen Tours have raised more than $56,000 for the auxiliary, making it one of the organization’s two major fundraisers for the year — the other being the annual Beach Ball, Jan. 15, 2010, and featuring the Tony Boffa Band.

Tickets for the Kitchen Tour are $25 each, and include both the tour and the tasting. They are available at the EMMC Gift Stop, Airline Pharmacy, Patrick’s Hallmark on Broadway, Rebecca’s, Westgate Pharmacy, Winterport Winery and online at

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Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.