AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine residents will be recognized this Sunday, Father’s Day, for their continued support of Maine state parks and historic sites with a free-admission day at all 48 state-owned facilities.
The Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands officials, under the Maine Department of Conservation, said Maine Residents Day is a great way to welcome summer and encourage continued visitation by residents.
“From birding at Aroostook State Park to baking bread in the Civil-War vintage oven at Fort Knox to welcoming summer at Roque Bluffs among the rugosa roses, it will be a great day to take Dad out for an outing,” said Commissioner Bill Beardsley of the Maine Department of Conservation.
On Sunday, June 19, residents will be admitted at no charge from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. All vehicles bearing Maine license plates will be allowed free entrance to Maine state parks and historic sites. No rain date will be available. The open admission does not apply to the Penobscot Narrows Observatory in Prospect, though admission to Fort Knox State Historic Site will be free that day.
The day, coincidentally, also is Father’s Day, and park staff throughout the park system is expecting it to be a great day to honor the paternal side of the family.
Last year, more than 2.6 million people visited Maine state parks and historic sites for day use and camping, the largest number of visitors in the past 21 years, according to BPL figures. Many of the parks and historic sites were able to open early because of the unusually warm, clear weather, with some parks opening five weeks earlier than usual.
“We are looking forward to warm, sunny weather and strong attendance again this year,” Harris said.
Among the BPL-sponsored activities taking place this weekend is the 3rd annual Aroostook State Park Birding Festival, 5 a.m.-1 p.m., Saturday, June 18, at the park in Presque Isle. The festival is expected to attract top birders and naturalists from all over the state to provide a family-friendly activity for birders of all abilities, according to Park Manager Scott Thompson.
The festival will offer guided bird walks, live birds of prey presentations, birding displays, boat rides and children’s activities, all highlighting the unique natural resources of Aroostook State Park as a birding mecca. Admission to the park and event is $2 for adults, $1 for children 5-11 and free for seniors and children under 5. For more information about the festival, contact Thompson at: 768-8341.
On Saturday and Sunday, June 18-19, the huge bake oven at Fort Knox State Historic Site in Prospect again will be fired up as a demonstration for visitors. The oven, which can bake 400 loaves of bread at the same time, was built by government masons in the summer of 1863 and was fired up last summer for the first time since 1898.
The oven was built as a big brick dome 15 feet deep, 10 feet wide, and 19 inches high in the center. It will undergo repairs later this month.
Visitors to Roque Bluffs State Park, located along the Maine coast on Englishman’s Bay, will be able to welcome in summer with the 3rd Annual Summer Solstice Celebration at 3 p.m., Sunday, June 19, overlooking the ocean.
According to Park Manager Rich Donaher, the afternoon celebration will feature a yoga salutation at 3 p.m., followed by a community meal — either a potluck ($3, kids under 5, free) or a shore dinner ($12.50). The University of Maine at Machias Ukulele Club will entertain during the meal, and afterwards, everyone will take part in a drumming session with Connie Harter-Bagley. A chapel service also will be held at 6:30 p.m.
For more information about the Summer Solstice Celebration and to reserve a shore dinner, call Donaher at 255-3475.
For more information about Maine state parks and historic sites, go to: www.parksandlands.com.