Music festival highlight of fair

Posted July 24, 2009, at 7:48 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:45 a.m.

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — As participation in the Northern Maine Music Festival grows, so does festival co-chairman Kevin McCartney’s desire to make it one of the best in the state.

“We are growing a little bit each year,” he said Friday. “Each year we get more artists and bigger crowds.”

This is the fifth year that the festival, which runs July 31-Aug. 8 at the Northern Maine Fairgrounds, has coincided with the Northern Maine Fair. The festival features nine nights of local music from various genres, including country, rock, gospel, jazz, fiddle, traditional and bluegrass.

McCartney, who also is vice president of the fair board, said organizers of the music festival have adhered to the philosophy of “trying to build a substantial festival with a modicum of finances.” He added that organizers also have made sure to showcase primarily local talent during the nine-day event.

“There are incredible pockets of musical talent right here in The County,” he said. “Each night we show a different genre of it. We are exposing more and more people to Celtic music, to gospel and blues and jazz.”

McCartney said one of the best features of the festival is that it has grown beyond its original boundaries. While most of the performances take place in the Commercial Exhibition Building, performances also will be held near the grandstand and in the Agricultural Heritage Building.

“This is a great thing to see,” he said. “We are a small festival but each year our numbers grow. We are having music in places at the fair that we have not had it before.”

McCartney said organizers are not scheduling the same acts year after year.

“We are keeping some of the favorites and bringing more acts on board,” he said. “What is most important to us is that the acts mostly consist of musicians who live within 70 miles of the city.”

New participants this year include the Jessica Prouty Band, consisting of four 14- to 16-year-old musicians from Marblehead, Mass. Topsham-based bluegrass banjo maker and musician Jimmy Cox also will perform.

“It would be great for people to picture the Northern Maine Music Festival as one of the top 10 such festivals in the state,” McCartney said. “I believe that we can do it.”

For information, go to www.northernmainefair.com.

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