BANGOR, Maine — The rain delayed the start of the third annual West Market Festival on Saturday morning but didn’t stop the summer’s first downtown event as live music began to filter through the center of the city around 1:30 p.m., followed by fashion, comedy and belly dancers.
The Retro Rockerz took the stage at around 1:30 p.m. to kick off the daylong festival and started with “Love Potion No. 9” to get those who braved the wet — but not quite raining — weather into party mode.
“They didn’t cancel Woodstock, so why would they cancel this?” drummer Eric “E.T’ Taylor said just before the band hit the stage. He and his 11-year-old son, Peter, set up his drum kit.
Taylor was joined onstage by lead singer Joe Bennett, a fifth- grade teacher at Fairmount School, bassist John Bradford, a surgeon at Eastern Maine Medical Center, and Andy Mead on guitar.
Gibran Vogue Graham, executive director of BangPop! and organizer of Saturday’s daylong event, introduced the band and said the rain delay had forced schedule changes, pushing the performance time back about an hour.
As the Rustic Rockerz were warming up, Bangor resident Jessie Roberts set up her lawn chair on the mostly vacant Broad Street, which was closed to vehicular traffic for the festival.
“I know a few of the people in the Retro Rockerz,” she said. “I went to school with some of their kids.”
Shortly after her chair was set up, Roberts’ parents, Phil and Therri Roberts, with their own folding chairs, joined her to listen to the music.
Others who made their way downtown, many carrying umbrellas, leaned against nearby buildings, and groups gathered at outdoor eating areas set up near the Whig & Courier Pub, the Reverend Noble Pub and Ipanema Bar & Grill.
One of the youngest people to arrive at Saturday’s festival was Madeline Allen, who was carried by her parents, Autumn and Justin Allen of Bangor. The couple has attended the festival before and wanted to “check it out” again this year with the new addition to their lives.
“We’re seeing if the baby likes live music,” her mother said.
“She’s almost 2½ months” old, her father said.
At least one couple who arrived at Saturday’s downtown festival came from out of town. Caribou residents Kristy Smith and Adam Morin didn’t come to Bangor specifically for the festival, but decided to attend after hearing about the live music.
“My brother told me about it, so we came over to check it out,” said Smith. “I heard Rustic Overtones was playing. I’ve heard them before, and they were pretty good.”
She was accompanied by her nieces, Orrington residents Victoria Smith, 13, and Courtney Smith, 15.
For the third year, the festival ended with Portland-based Rustic Overtones.
They played in the rain to a small crowd that filled about half of Broad Street. Some of the young people gathered in front of the stage wore raincoats or held umbrellas in attempts to stay dry, and others just got wet.
“This is like the highest compliment,” said lead singer and guitarist Dave Gutter to the crowd.
Older residents and families stood farther back from the stage, lining the street to listen to the music. A handful of young children took the opportunity to play in mud puddles and get thoroughly drenched.
The West Market Festival is a great way to bring people together downtown and provide area residents with a great excuse to get outside, even if it’s wet and rainy, Graham said.
“We’re all from Maine” and don’t melt, he said.