STONINGTON, Maine — Lupines are popping up all over the Deer Isle-Stonington area, a sure sign that not only summer is on its way, but also the annual island Lupine Festival.
The festival, sponsored by the Deer Isle-Stonington Chamber of Commerce, celebrates its 10th year this weekend, June 17-19.
The decade has seen the annual lupine gala evolve from a small local celebration into an islandwide event, according to Christina Shipps, the chamber president. It is one of just two lupine festivals in the country, she said. The other is in New Hampshire.
The local festival began as a way for islanders to mark the arrival of spring.
“Two chamber members wanted to do something to celebrate the spring,” Shipps said Monday. “It was just an island event then to celebrate surviving another winter.”
The lupines, she said, were a sign of the spring and grow everywhere around the island.
The two women ran the festival for two years before the chamber took over. The major change the organization made, Shipps said, was to move the festival out of the gymnasium.
“We figured having a flower festival inside a gym was not the best thing to do; we changed it to make it more of an islandwide festival so people could drive all over the island and enjoy it,” she said.
She noted that the chamber’s 130 business members are spread out all over the island, and rather than have them all pack up to participate at one site, they decided to use the entire island as a venue.
“They get to stay in their business and we send the people to them,” she said. “It works a whole lot better.”
The open venue allows businesses to participate at whatever level they want to, Shipps said. One gallery owner, for example, is hosting a jazz concert at the gallery, she said.
Over the years, the festival has become a popular attraction that brings people back again and again, Shipps said.
The festival includes a number of activities such as boat rides and airplane rides around the island, as well private garden tours, sponsored by the Evergreen Garden Club.
“That has become very popular and is sold out every year,” Shipps said. “They cover a different part of the island each year and they feature private homes and gardens that you never get to see.”
Music has been a big part of the festival and this year is no exception, with a jazz concert featuring the Jim Cameron/Gary Wittner Quartet on Friday night, the annual variety show and Bud Carter Memorial Scholarship Concert on Saturday, and PS, I Love Music, with local Grammy winner Paul Sullivan and friend.
The weekend festival is extended this year with a performance by the Flash in the Pans steel drum band on Monday night.
One new feature this year comes from the Deer Isle-Stonington Historical Society, which has put together a display of Civil War artifacts and Island Yachting Era memorabilia.
And then there’s lupines, of course. They grow wild all over the island, and the festival brochure marks places where there are large swaths of the flowers.
A full schedule of weekend events is available on the chamber’s website: www.deerisle.com, under calendar. Also, brochures and an island guide are available at the chamber welcome center on Route 15 just over the Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge.