Red Barn awarded Editor’s Choice Award by Down East magazine for Business Advocate of the Year!


For Immediate Release

June 16, 2014


Alicia Barnes (207) 660-3663

The Red Barn Selected Down East Editors Pick for Best Business Advocate of the Year

Augusta, Maine – The Red Barn was named Best Business Advocate in this year’s poll of Down East Magazine editors’ favorites. Thousands of Down East readers and editors voted February through April for their statewide selections and the Red Barn made the list. The full list of the Best Of honored businesses, places and more, appears in the July issue of Down East

The “Best of Maine” awards occur annually and provide Down East readers the opportunity to nominate the Maine people, places and things that mean the most to them. Based solely on popular vote, the winners represent the best of Maine as identified by the people who know Maine the best: residents and repeat visitors.

“This year thousands of readers nominated their favorites across Maine,” said Down East Editor in Chief Kathleen Fleury. “To be included in this list selected by the readers of Down East or the editorial team here means that you truly are part of what makes Maine so great. Our readers and team take the task of selecting the Best Of very seriously. It really is an honor.” 

The Red Barn restaurant has been family owned and operated for over 37 years. Laura Benedict purchased the business from her brothers at the age of 19 and she is proud to be able to serve and support the community. In the past four years, Laura and the Red Barn family have raised almost $700,000.00 for local individuals and non-profit organizations. When Laura received a letter from the State Attorney General’s office that she needed a license to continue fundraising, she contacted her local Representative, Lori Fowle, who submitted an amendment to the Charitable Solicitation Act, which became known as the “Red Barn Bill” and was co-sponsored by Representative Lori Fowle and Senator Roger Katz. The amendment passed unanimously and was signed into law by the Governor. To grow the charitable efforts of her business, Laura created the Red Barn Cares Foundation, which will serve local Maine families and non-profit organizations.

“Receiving this award from Down East magazine leaves me a bit speechless. It is literally a dream come true! –Laura Benedict, Owner

The full list of “Best of Maine” winners appears in the July issue of Down East, on newsstands June 24.

About Down East Enterprise:

Down East Enterprise, Inc., is a multimedia company based in Camden, Maine. The company’s flagship publication, Down East: The Magazine of Maine, is the largest paid-circulation magazine dedicated to the Pine Tree State. A digital version of Down East was launched in February 2013. For six decades, Down East has been the authority on Maine, and today continues to capture the reader’s attention with an insider look at contemporary life in Maine. People who love Maine love Down East.

Down East currently publishes Shooting Sportsman, the world’s largest magazine dedicated to wingshooting and fine guns, and Fly Rod & Reel, a quarterly publication for fly-fishing enthusiasts, in addition to Down East. Down East also produces websites, mobile apps, and video programming via the Down East Channel.



Win a $100 Red Barn Gift Card!


To enter to win a $100 Red Barn Gift Card, just purchase tickets at the Red Barn to the Friends of Lithgow Library’s Spring Spaghetti Sling on April 27th from 3-6pm at the Augusta Armory!

Fun activities including a craft table sponsored by AC Moore, entertainment by Rick Charette and the Bubble Gum Band, and a great meal prepared by the Red Barn is all included in the ticket price!

For just $20.00 a ticket gets you access to a meal and a fun-filled afternoon! The $100 Red Barn Gift Card winner will be drawn at the event! We will see you there!!
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This gallery contains 6 photos.

Thank you to everyone who donated to Messalonskee’s fundraiser !! We raised $3,579.00 and Laura matched that bringing the total to $7,158.00!! Laura won the 50/50 raffle and donated it back to the class of 2015!! The grand total raised is $7,423.00!!!

Thank you to the lineman and tree crews!

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Linemen from the Coutts Brothers Crew based in Randolph, Maine.


Thanks to the hard work of thousands of Mainers and crews from as far away as Florida and Ohio, we were only without power for a very short time! We wanted to thank everyone for their hard work, not to mention missing Christmas with their families, so ours could be warm, we will be feeding any crew member who needs a hot meal while working to restore all of our neighbors! Thank you!!

Going Forward

Attorney General Janet Mills stops by to personally speak with Laura!

Attorney General Janet Mills stops by to personally speak with Laura!

We are so incredibly thankful for the outpouring of support we receive from our community. There is absolute strength in numbers and belonging to such a wonderful community only exemplifies this!

We would like to recap the turn of events and our opinion on these matters. As we were busy planning our first free Thanksgiving Community Dinner we received a letter in the mail from the State of Maine Attorney General’s office. Upon opening the letter it appeared someone had reported us for acting in a manner that we legally have no right to do. We were confused that the letter stated “This office directs you to cease engaging in solicitation as a charitable organization…” We have never advertised that we are a charitable organization. All of the fundraisers we hold are either for an individual who has fallen on tough times due to injury or illness, or for non-profit organizations that need our help.

So there are a few issues that proliferated this letter from the Attorney General’s office, the first being someone reported us for breaking the law and was either misinformed or purposefully lying to instigate us to be forced to halt our charitable efforts. It is incredibly sad that there are people who put their interests above all others in this community we have helped.

Secondly, the Attorney Generals office was just doing their job, There are Maine statutes that it appeared we were not in compliance with because of an instigators report and these statutes were written to help protect the people of Maine from being bilked from our hard earned money by causes that don’t actually benefit those in need. Our Attorney General, Janet Mills visited Laura personally on a Saturday to apologize for the harshness of the letter and to let us know the form letter will no longer be used! We thank Janet for taking the time out of her weekend and personally coming to see us! She had no knowledge of this letter before it was sent and is now aware that we and others may interpret the letter as harsh. We were not visited by our Governor, but his wife Ann LePage did comment to a Representative on our facebook feed, Mr. Timberlake, that her husband would be contacting him. We’re not sure why he wouldn’t contact us, but he hasn’t and we are already working with our representative Lori Fowle and Senator Colleen Lachowicz on a fix to solve this issue for other small businesses that do not have the resources we do. We also have Matt Pouliot’s support in this matter. We will be working very closely with Lori, Colleen, and Matt to amend legislation in order to streamline the process of helping our communities while still operating as for-profit businesses.

Receiving this letter from the AG’s office was also our “tipping point” We have been considering forming a charitable arm of the Red Barn for quite some time in order to build more capacity and grow the momentum. Our next step is to file for a 501(c)3 organization so we can operate as a charitable organization and contribute even more to the growing needs of our community. We are thankful that we received this letter because we now realize that we must go forward with this endeavor now. We also realize many of our friends who are small business owners do not have these resources so we will be following through with the work with the help of Representative Fowle and Senator Lachowicz with the support of Representative Pouliot and Senator Katz. Any other political commentary on this issue is not with our knowledge and we will not be used as a tool to boost any political opinion, especially by officials who have not been in direct contact with us regarding how we go forward.

We are also working diligently on our 501(c)3 paperwork and filing with the Secretary of State to operate as a charitable organization in the state of Maine. Mr. Mahaleris from Senator Collins office has offered to help us navigate the expediting process of filing our paperwork. We have an amazing board of volunteers lined up who are leaders in community service, including Laura Benedict, Roger Pomerleau, Chuck Mahaleris, Colleen Lachowicz and Maeghan Maloney. We plan to do some amazing fundraising events once we have our non-profit status back from the IRS which will enable us to increase our capacity to support the needs of our community.

We will keep everyone updated as we move forward and we wish to thank everyone for your support!