BINGHAM, Maine — In an area of the state dominated by the natural splendor of its waterways, life for many Somerset County residents revolves around the Kennebec River valley.
Kayaking, fly-fishing and any of a number of other river activities are exploits of the tranquil sort, bonded by the fact that they’ll pull you away from the rat race of daily life.
Organizers of this coming weekend’s River Festival in the Bingham area hope to share a little of their way of life with three days of activities all along the theme of enjoying the river.
“We’re trying to show people what’s here in our beautiful upper Kennebec Valley area,” said Cyndee Gagnon, president of the Upper Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce and festival coordinator.
Participants in a three-day fishing tournament have the chance at prizes for their best catches along the Kennebec River from Harris Station Dam south to Solon, including Wyman Lake. The weigh station for the tournament will be at the Bingham Motor Inn & Sports Complex from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. For more information about the tournament, call 672-3549 or 672-4135.
A craft and artisan fair will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday in Bingham, and there will be a parade that begins at noon. Children ages 13 and under are invited to dress up in their favorite costume and march in the parade in a contest that will be judged at the parade’s conclusion at Camden National Bank.
Also beginning at noon Saturday will be a fly-fishing and fly-tying clinic by representatives from Trout Unlimited. That event will take place at Evergreens Campground in Solon.
At the Bingham Boat Landing, canoe and kayak rides will be given starting at 11 a.m.
At 2 p.m., participants in a Duckee Derby Race will have the opportunity at prizes of up to $250 if their numbered rubber duck (provided at the festival) makes it to the finish line ahead of the others.
A dance with DJ Montana Green is scheduled for 4 to 9 p.m. at the Kennebec Service Center, and a baked bean supper will be held beginning at 5 p.m. at St. Peter’s Church on Owens Street in Bingham. Fireworks will light the sky beginning at 9 p.m. Saturday at North Country Rivers, 36 Main St. in Bingham.
The fishing tournament concludes Sunday with awards and a door prize drawing at 4 p.m. at the Bingham Motor Inn & Sports Complex. Games for kids are scheduled before the ceremony, beginning at noon.
In addition to promoting the area and its water-based activities, the festival’s goal is to raise as much money as possible for the annual Santa Fund run by the Chamber of Commerce and the local American Legion, said Gagnon. Organizers hope the program, which for years has provided toys and winter gear to children in Bing-ham and several surrounding towns, will expand this year to possibly include Christmas meal baskets for needy families.
“The biggest thing is to see how much money we can bring in to help people in the area,” said Gagnon.
Organizers are still accepting vendors and artisans who would like to sell their wares during the festival. For more information, contact Gagnon at 672-4191 or festival co-chairwoman Carolanne Dionne at 672-4108.