It seems to be an agreed-upon fact that this winter was a real doozy. When a foot of snow no longer feels like a huge amount, and you’re thinking of proposing to your snow shovel instead of your girlfriend, you know you’re in trouble.
But even with a few chilly nights and the odd snow squall in these early weeks of spring, you know that change is in the air. And as Mainers, we know that even if it’s only 40 degrees out, there’s no reason not to walk around in your shirt sleeves and comment on how balmy it is. It’s spring, gosh darn it, and we aren’t letting anything get in our way of enjoying it.
Which is why we here at the Bangor Daily have compiled a list of fun things to do this season — from gardening events to comic books, from rock ’n’ roll to roller derby, and from bicycle parades to ballroom dancing. Enjoy yourself — you deserve it, after the icebound gauntlet you just went through. January already feels like a faint memory.
1. Grow Your Own Organic Garden Day — Locations statewide, April 5 and 6.
Join the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association for this statewide event, teaching newbie growers how to maintain an organic garden on their own. For just $5, participants will learn about soil, composting, which plants to choose, pest control and much more. Locations range from Fort Kent to Wells. Visit mofga.org for a full listing of workshops.
2. Maine Roller Derby — April 3 and 23 and May 14, Happy Wheels and Portland Expo.
The Portland-based Maine Roller Derby pits roller-skating female athletes from Maine against other derby teams from around the Northeast. It’s fast, it’s fun, and it’s unlike any other sporting event you’ve been to —- from the fishnet tights to the punk rock soundtrack. There are three bouts coming up; 5 p.m. Sunday, April 3, at Happy Wheels in Portland, vs. Boston B Party; 6 p.m. Saturday, April 23, at Portland Expo, vs. Boston Massacre; and 6 p.m. Saturday, May 14, at Portland Expo, vs. Providence Killah Bees. Admission is $5-$13; for info, visit mainerollerderby.com. But watch out, Portland — Midcoast Maine Roller Derby is starting up in the Rockland area.
3. Eat hot taffy on snow — Any maple sugarhouse in Maine, through April.
It’s maple syrup season, and one of the finest regional treats you can have this time of year is hot taffy on snow. Maple syrup is heated and stirred until it becomes a thick, delectably sweet, taffylike substance. Put a healthy helping of the mixture on shaved ice, and you’re in Maine-made heaven. Visit mainemapleproducers.com for a full list of sugarhouses in Maine, and their contact information.
4. Bangor Garden Show— April 8-10, Bangor Auditorium.
After a hiatus, the Bangor Garden Show returns to the Queen City, heralding spring as it turns the auditorium into a green, sweet-smelling floral oasis. Whether you’re a master gardener or a novice, this three-day affair is a great escape from the final clutches of winter — and a chance to check out what more than 40 local businesses have to offer for this growing season. Admission is $5.
5. 430 Bayside House Concerts — April 12 and 26, May 7 and 19, Ellsworth.
If you’ve never made it to one of the 430 Bayside house concerts, you don’t know what you’re missing — wonderful folk musicians, playing in the intimate comfort of someone’s home. Check out songwriter Bruce Molsky at 7 p.m. April 12; the fearsome fiddle foursome of Colin Grant, Jason MacDonald, Adam Young and John Grant at 7 p.m. April 26; songwriter Theresa Doyle at 7 p.m. May 7; and Canadian fiddle star Cynthia McLeod at 7 p.m. May 19. Admission is $10, and it’s located at — where else? — 430 Bayside Road, Ellsworth.
6. Books2Eat Edible Book Competition — 4-6 p.m. Wednesday, April 13, Eastern Maine Community College Library.
Eastern Maine Community College Library’s annual contest for cooks and book lovers is an opportunity for professional chefs and home cooks to celebrate National Library Week by re-creating a favorite book in edible form. Past entries have been based on everything from “Moby-Dick” to Stephen King. After winners are announced and professional entries auctioned off, everyone will “taste browse” the remaining books.
7. Attend a “Nite Show” taping — 6 p.m. April 13 and May 4, Brewer.
Dan Cashman’s weekly half-hour television variety show shines the spotlight on the Bangor region’s most talented people. Cashman and company shoot episodes at 6 p.m. Wednesdays at Next Generation Theatre in Brewer; admission is free. Donations are accepted, and seats are filled first come, first served. Local bands, interesting people and fun area humor — what’s not to love? The show is broadcast at 11:30 p.m. Saturdays on WABI TV.
8. Record Store Day — Statewide, April 16
Record Store Day, now celebrated by thousands of record stores across the world, was started in 2006 by Bull Moose Music’s own Chris Brown. This Maine-grown phenomenon will be celebrated by 14 record stores across the state, including all nine Maine Bull Moose locations. Bands, giveaways and one-of-a-kind releases from the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Daft Punk, the Foo Fighters and My Morning Jacket are all on the menu. For a full listing of events, visit recordstoreday.com.
9. Bud Light Reggae Fest — April 14-17, Sugarloaf.
Four days of good vibes and end-of-season skiing sounds like a great way to ring in spring. The annual Reggaefest at Sugarloaf attracts skiers and music fans. For $133 a night, you can stay, ski and rock with bands like Mighty Mystic, Renegade Sound Station, Spiritual Rez, Roots of Creation and many more. Music-only passes start at $15. For ticket info, visit sugarloaf.com.
10. Maine’s own “Dancing With the Stars” competitions — April 15 and 16, Camden and Ellsworth.
If you’re watching this season of “Dancing With the Stars,” you know how difficult it is to learn to cha-cha, waltz and fox trot in a matter of weeks. You can see locals try it, however, with two separate fundraising events. The Camden Opera House hosts a “DWTS”-style event at 7 p.m. Friday, April 15, featuring local celebrities; while The Grand theater in Ellsworth offers “Dancing With the Ellsworth Stars” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 16. For information, visit camdenoperahouse.com or grandonline.org.
11. WERU Spring Music and Gear Sale — 11 a.m.-5 p.m. April 16, Brewer Auditorium.
Are you a record collector? Looking for a new guitar or amp? You’re in luck this April. Individuals, organizations and businesses are invited to reserve tables to sell musical instruments, gear, records and CDs at this fundraising event to benefit WERU Community Radio. In addition to dozens of vendor tables, there will be food, entertainment and door prizes. For more info, visit weru.org.
12. Great Maine Bike Swap — May 1, University of Maine Student Recreation and Fitness Center.
The Bicycle Coalition of Maine hosts this annual gathering of bike people 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday, May 1. Last year, more than 150 bikes were swapped or sold by more than 500 people who attended. For information on the event, visit bikemaine.org.
13. Poets/SPEAK! — 4:30 p.m. Thursday, April 21, Bangor Public Library.
Poets/Speak! is one of the largest free poetry events in Maine. This year it will feature more than 25 well-known and emerging poets, local Poetry Out Loud competitors, a panel on Writing Below the Border, and book sales and signings. This year’s event will include readings by Christian Barter, Linda Buckmaster, Cheryl Daigle, Kathleen Ellis, Leonore Hildebrandt, Annaliese Jakamides, Megan London, Lisa Panepinto, Bruce Pratt, Lee Sharkey, Clinton Spaulding and Ellen Taylor.
14. Kites, Bikes and Trikes Festival — Saturday, April 23, Owls Head Transportation Museum
The museum will hold its annual Kites, Bikes & Trikes Family Festival starting at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, April 23, where kids can bring their kites (homemade or otherwise) to fly and see kite-flying demonstrations by members of the Nor’easters Kite Club from Portland. Kids also may bring their bicycles and tricycles for tune-ups and for a bike parade at noon. Admission is free for those under 18, and $10 for adults. For information, visit owlshead.org.
15. Sex is the Spice of Life Festival — April 25-27, The Grand, Ellsworth.
It’s an event strictly for those 18 and over, but if you’re open-minded, The Grand theater’s Sex Is the Spice of Life Festival will offer films and lectures on a topic people are afraid to ask about. On April 25, The Grand will show the documentary “Orgasm, Inc,” on April 26; the indie classic “Shortbus”; and on April 27 sex activist and artist Annie Sprinkle will give a talk on “sex ecology.” For ticket information, call 667-9500.
16. Earth Day Roadside Cleanup — Acadia National Park, April 30.
Friends of Acadia’s annual Earth Day Roadside Cleanup of Acadia National Park lets community members of all ages help maintain one of Maine’s beloved national treasure. In 2010, more than 300 volunteers participated, picking up more than 650 bags of trash, plus an assortment of other “junk” from more than 100 miles of roadside in the MDI, Trenton and Schoodic areas. For more information or to register, contact Terry Begley at 207-288-3340.
17. Belfast Free Range Music Festival — April 30, throughout Belfast.
The second annual festival brings together more than 30 bands over the course of a day, highlighting some wonderful, under-the-radar bands, ranging in style from folk to indie rock, alternative, reggae, gypsy, soul, electronic and more. It’s one of the most eclectic lineups the state will see all year, and passes are only $18 for the whole day. For information and a full lineup, visit freerangemusicfestival.com.
18. Halfway to Halloween Celebration — 9 p.m. April 30, West Market Square, downtown Bangor.
Who says Halloween has to come only once a year? Use April 30 as an excuse to come up with an awesome costume and meet up with your friends in West Market Square. Local bars will sponsor the festivities, there will be plenty of live music, and there’s a costume contest, of course.
19. Skate Against Drugs — May 7, Bangor Skate Park.
Skateboarders and punk and emo fans can rejoice with the annual Skate Against Drugs festival set for 11 a.m. until sunset at Bangor Skate Park at Bass Park. It’s free, and it has bands ranging from headliners Hit the Lights to Bangor area folks such as Legend Has It and Beyond Goodbye. Bring your board and your appetite for rocking.
20. Kid Central Festival — May 7, Downtown Bangor.
Kids are the stars at the first-ever Kid Central Festival on May 7 throughout downtown Bangor. There are lots of free activities at local businesses throughout the day, including making root beer, face painting, tie dyeing, storytelling, art projects, music, games and more. Plus, come celebrate Free Comic Book Day with Maine artists and a superhero costume contest. Outdoor activities depend on the weather. For more information, visit KidCentralFest.com. Presented by BangPop!
21. Chung Ling Soo Stage Magic Competition —May 14, Next Generation Theatre, Brewer.
Magicians from all over the state will gather at the Next Generation Theatre in Brewer to participate in the Chung Ling Soo Stage Magic Competition, named for the man who is widely known as one of the greatest stage magicians of all time. Larger-scale magic tricks, as opposed to smaller, hand-held tricks, will be performed. The event is at 7-8:30 p.m. Saturday, May 14, and admission is $8 for adults, $5 for kids.
22. Pecha Kucha Bangor — 6 p.m. May 20, Union Street Brick Church.
Midcoast towns have had Pecha Kucha nights for a while, but now Bangor gets its own event at 6-9 p.m. Friday, May 20, at Union Street Brick Church. Pecha Kucha started in Japan as an event for young designers to show their work in public. Events now happen in hundreds of cities around the world. Drawing its name from the Japanese term for the sound of “chitchat,” it rests on a presentation format based on a simple idea: 20 images with 20 seconds for each image.
23. 50th Anniversary Bay Chamber Music Concert — 7 p.m. Saturday, May 21, Rockport Opera House.
Six favorite artists from every decade of Bay Chamber Concerts’ 50-year history come together to perform a program culminating in Brahms’ piano quintet. Violinists Shmuel Ashkenasi (who played in the first season) and Joseph Silverstein (former concertmaster of Boston Symphony); Violist and Curtis Institute of Music Director Roberto Diaz; Vermeer Quartet cellist Marc Johnson; and pianists Wu Han (co-director of the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society); and prize-winner Anastasia Antonacos will perform in a historic homecoming. Most tickets are under $25; visit baychamberconcerts.org for more information.
24. Taste of Bar Harbor — May 20-22, Bar Harbor.
Get your food on over the third weekend in May, when Bar Harbor opens its doors to eaters of all stripes. Wine and olive oil tastings, the annual waiter and waitress races, a jazz brunch, food demonstrations, a craft fair and a tasting fair are planned for the three-day event. For information, visit barharborinfo.com/events/.
25. Music Mountain Festival — May 27-29, Madawaska Lake, Stockholm.
Thirty-six acres overlooking Madawaska Lake will be taken over for three days by more than 30 bands for the annual Music Mountain Festival on Memorial Day weekend. For just $65, you and yours can experience all that the St. John Valley has to offer while hearing great music and enjoying beautiful scenery. For tickets and more information, visit ticketriver.com and search for “Music Mountain.”