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25 things to do this fall — festivals, foliage and fun


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Posted Sept. 22, 2011, at 11:54 a.m.
Last modified Sept. 24, 2011, at 6:35 p.m.

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Valerie Kitchen (left) and Amy Pozzy walk over the pedestrian footbridge that spans Kenduskeag Stream in September 2010 as the fall foliage begins to show its colors. There are several fall foliage drives including a 28-mile loop through Aroostook County farm country, a 46-mile trip from Skowhegan to Moxie Falls, a drive from Kingfield to the Canadian border, and the Grindstone Scenic Byway from Medway to Matagamon.
Valerie Kitchen (left) and Amy Pozzy walk over the pedestrian footbridge that spans Kenduskeag Stream in September 2010 as the fall foliage begins to show its colors. There are several fall foliage drives including a 28-mile loop through Aroostook County farm country, a 46-mile trip from Skowhegan to Moxie Falls, a drive from Kingfield to the Canadian border, and the Grindstone Scenic Byway from Medway to Matagamon.
Jessica Wentworth (center) waits to sample some beer with her friend Stephen Genthner of Round Pond at the 14th annual Oktoberfest in Southwest Harbor in October 2009. There are two big Oktoberfest celebrations in eastern Maine this October. The first is set for Oct. 1 in downtown Bangor and the second is Oct. 7-8 at Smuggler’s Den Campground in Southwest Harbor.
Jessica Wentworth (center) waits to sample some beer with her friend Stephen Genthner of Round Pond at the 14th annual Oktoberfest in Southwest Harbor in October 2009. There are two big Oktoberfest celebrations in eastern Maine this October. The first is set for Oct. 1 in downtown Bangor and the second is Oct. 7-8 at Smuggler’s Den Campground in Southwest Harbor.
Keith Richards Jr., 16, of Garland adjusts his mask for his role as The Punisher at the eighth annual Fright at the Fort in October 2007 at Fort Knox in Prospect. This year's event will take place from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Oct. 21-22 and Oct. 28-29 at Fort Knox State Park in Prospect. Admission is $5 for a night of Halloween fun.
Keith Richards Jr., 16, of Garland adjusts his mask for his role as The Punisher at the eighth annual Fright at the Fort in October 2007 at Fort Knox in Prospect. This year's event will take place from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Oct. 21-22 and Oct. 28-29 at Fort Knox State Park in Prospect. Admission is $5 for a night of Halloween fun.
Maine Eastern Railroad's 2006 passenger excursion service was previewed during a special Governor's Train inaugural ride to and from Brunswick. The Maine Eastern Railroad, which stretches from Brunswick to Rockland, offers fall foliage experiences, shopping excursions and private chartered trips. Round trip fare starts at $21 for children and $27 for adults.
Leanne Robicheau
Maine Eastern Railroad's 2006 passenger excursion service was previewed during a special Governor's Train inaugural ride to and from Brunswick. The Maine Eastern Railroad, which stretches from Brunswick to Rockland, offers fall foliage experiences, shopping excursions and private chartered trips. Round trip fare starts at $21 for children and $27 for adults.

As you bid goodbye to summer — so long flip flops, air conditioner and iced beverages on the patio — you say hello to an even more fleetingly beautiful part of the year. The crispness in the air arrived last week, and the leaves have just barely begun to change color. Summer may look pretty fantastic after four months of winter, but autumn feels just lovely after four months of summer. Enjoy it while you can by trying any of the 25 things to do this fall that we’ve assembled for you.

1. Camden International Film Festival, Sept. 29-Oct. 2, throughout Camden and Rockland

26 features and 22 shorts, in five venues in Camden and Rockland. The CIFF has developed into a great Maine film festival, focusing on documentary filmmaking. A full festival pass is only $75, though $125 will get you a VIP pass to all the fun parties. Highlights this year include “Downeast,” a Maine-made work-in-progress documentary about the sardine cannery in Gouldsboro; “Crazy Horse” about a legendary Parisian nightclub and “You’re Looking At Me Like I Live Here And I Don’t,” about Alzheimer’s disease. For tickets, visit camdenfilmfest.org.

2. Vinfest, Sept. 30-Oct. 1, Cellardoor Winery, 367 Youngtown Road, Lincolnville

Wine and the harvest are the things to be celebrated at Cellardoor’s annual autumn bash. Friday night, there’s a fancy four-course meal and acoustic performance by Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds. Saturday, the fun is to open to all with a $10 admission, with cooking demonstrations, food and wine tastings, grape stomping, a homemade wine competition, scarecrow decorating contest, horse-drawn carriage rides, antique tractor display, mini pumpkin hunt, barbecue, music and more. For information, visit mainewine.com.

3. Oktoberfest (in downtown Bangor, Oct. 1; at Smuggler’s Den Campground, Southwest Harbor, Oct. 7 and 8)

There are two big Oktoberfest celebrations in eastern Maine this October. The first is set for Oct. 1 in downtown Bangor, with a free outdoor market all afternoon in West Market Square, a very special beer event at Nocturnem Drafthaus and other German-themed events throughout downtown. In Southwest Harbor, Smuggler’s Den Campground will host two days of fun, with Friday devoted to wine and cheese and Saturday all about the daylong beer tasting, featuring brewers from across the state. A full pass with ten beer tickets is $25.

4. Fall Foliage Drive #1: Skowhegan to Moxie Falls

Take Route 201 from Skowhegan (or Waterville, if you wish) all the way to the Forks. It’s about 46 scenic miles along the Kennebec River through small Somerset County towns like Solon, Bingham and Caratunk, all the way to the Forks. Once you’re there, take a right onto Lake Moxie Road and drive just a few miles to Moxie Falls, a publicly accessible waterfall with a parking area. Moxie Falls is one of the highest waterfalls in Maine, with main drop of 90 feet and a network of easy trails nearby. Sorry, but the falls do not flow with Moxie — just clean, cold water.

5. Clash of the Titans, 9 p.m., semiweekly, Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St., Portland

This semiweekly Portland event has only grown in popularity since it started in 2008. The idea? Area musicians form two 1-night-only bands to play covers of songs from two famous bands and artists. The bands in question are pitted against each other for audience choice, and favorite pairings have included Led Zeppelin versus the Who, TLC versus Salt-n-Pepa and the Smiths versus the Cure. Upcoming shows include the Cars versus Blondie on Sept. 28, Spoon versus Wilco on Oct. 4 and Living Colour versus Faith No More on Oct. 11. For information, visit portcitymusichall.com.

6. Fifth Annual Bangor Book Festival, 3-9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30 and 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, at the Bangor Public Library, Bagel Central, WBRC Architects and Engineers, Maine Discovery Museum and Bangor Opera House

The festival will bring 34 renowned Maine and Maine-connected authors to downtown Bangor to read and discuss their work, ranging from award-winning Maine journalist Colin Woodard to the BDN’s own Ardeana Hamlin. All events are free and open to the public. For information, visit bangorbookfest.org.

7. Maine Eastern Railroad, trips Wednesday-Sunday, online at maineasternrailroad.com

The Maine Eastern Railroad, which stretches from Brunswick to Rockland, is one of the classiest ways to get around the midcoast. In the fall, the railroad offers fall foliage experiences, shopping excursions and private chartered trips. Round trip fare starts at $21 for children and $27 for adults.

8. The Great Ellsworth Puppet Festival, Friday-Sunday, Oct. 7-9, at The Grand, 165 Main St., Ellsworth

The first-ever Puppet Festival kicks off with “The Muppet Movie” at 7 p.m. Friday at the Grand Theatre. Saturday, the festival features a “Puss in Boots” hand puppet show by Perry Ally Theatre, 1 p.m. and hand puppet show “The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow” by Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers, 3 p.m. On Sunday, it’s “The Outrageous Wisdom of Nasruddin” by Richard Merrill at 1 p.m. and “The Dragon King” by Tanglewood Marionettes at 3 p.m. Each show is $10 for adults, $5 for children, or a $50 festival pass covers a family of four to Saturday and Sunday shows. For information, visit grandonline.org.

9. Fall Foliage Bike Trip #1: Aroostook River Ride

This 28-mile loop through Aroostook County farm country is a popular one with cyclists from The County and is suitable for intermediate-level bikers. It both starts and ends on Riverside Drive in Presque Isle, running through farm country north and west of the city. A full map of the exact route can be found on the Explore Maine by Bike website.

10. Beer & Pemaquid Mussel Fest, 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15, at Three Tides, 2 Pinchy Lane, Belfast

Enjoy Pemaquid mussels prepared four ways and Belgian frites with all the sauces. To wash it all down, Three Tides will serve upwards of 30 Marshall Wharf beers at their three bars both indoor and outdoors. For beer lovers, it’s heaven. Cozy up by the outdoor fire and enjoy what will probably be one of your last chances to sit outside and not freeze.

11. Maine Earth Science Day, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, Maine State Museum, Augusta

Maine Earth Science Day brings scientists, industry professionals, artists and educators to the museum for a day of learning and demonstrations about Maine geology. For the science-inclined kid, it’ll be a wealth of educational information — and the Maine State Museum is a fun visit anyway. For information, visit mainestatemuseum.org.

12. Stone Mountain Arts Center, Dugway Road, Brownfield

Nestled in the rolling western Maine hills, this gorgeous timber-frame barn hosts some wonderful bands and singer-songwriters all season long. See diverse artists, ranging from Malian guitarist Boubacar Traore on Sunday, Sept. 25, country swing band Asleep at the Wheel on Oct. 2, bluegrass musicians Crooked Still on Oct. 6, Peter Wolf on Oct. 7 and 8, Dar Williams on Oct. 21 and Martin Sexton on Oct. 27. Tickets are available online at stonemountainartscenter.com.

13. Fall Foliage Drive #2: Kingfield to Canadian border

For some sweeping views of Maine’s western mountains, lakes and ponds all dressed up in their fall plumage, take Route 27 from Kingfield to the Canadian border. It’s a winding, wild ride through some beautiful backcountry starting near Sugarloaf Ski Resort and making its way through a few tiny towns, like Chain of Ponds Township, Eustis and Stratton. You can turn around and come back once you get to the Coburn Gore border crossing — or, if you’re feeling really ambitious and have a passport, you could keep going into Quebec.

14. Women’s ice hockey, throughout the season, Alfond Arena, University of Maine

The UMaine men’s ice hockey team gets lots of attention, and understandably so — but what about the equally awesome women’s ice hockey team? Those who love hockey, who love women’s sports and who love the University of Maine would do well to check out a game, which has its own level of excitement and energy. The women’s ice hockey team plays home games on the following dates this fall: against Sacred Heart, Sept. 23-24; against Bemidji State, Oct. 14-15; against Northeastern, Oct. 28; against Niagara, Nov. 12-13, and against Brown, Nov. 18-19. For information and tickets, visit goblackbears.com.

15. Harvest on the Harbor, Oct. 20-22, Ocean Gateway, 239 Park Ave., Portland

Restaurants, farmers, food artisans, fishermen and anyone who identifies as a foodie can flock to Portland the weekend of Oct. 20-22 for the annual Harvest on the Harbor. Three full days of food, wine and people who love food and wine. Competitions for lobster chefs and farm-to-table chefs, grand tastings of all kinds of food produced right here in Maine and much more are on the table. A $285 pass gets you into every event and meal, while individual day passes range from $45-$75. For information, visit harvestontheharbor.com

16. Eastport Arts Center, throughout the season, 36 Washington St., Eastport

Head Down East, and after you’re done enjoying the beautiful scenery, take in a performance at the Eastport Arts Center. This vital cultural resource in Washington County offers theater, music and more year-round. Singer-songwriter Adam Nordell performs Oct. 7, Oct. 22-23 and Oct. 29-30; see a production of the classic murder mystery “Deathtrap” and the Passamaquoddy Bay Symphony Orchestra — one of the only international orchestras in the U.S. — plays on Nov. 12. For info, visit eastportartscenter.com.

17. Fall Foliage Bike Trip #2: Portland to Prouts Neck

The ocean meets the land for this 26-mile ride which highlights the beautiful southern coast of Portland as well as fall foliage. From downtown Portland, pedal south across Casco Bay Bridge, which is extremely bike-friendly. Glide through marshland en route to Prouts Neck, a peninsula 10 miles southwest of Portland. Then head north on Route 77 to the shorefront village of Higgins Beach. You’ll pass by Portland Head Light and Crescent Beach State Park, which are fun detours. By the time you’re back in Portland, you’ll be ready for a meal at one of the city’s many excellent restaurants.

18. Red Cloak Haunted History Tours, throughout Midcoast, weekly through October

Just who is the lady in the red cloak? And why does she know so much about the mysterious goings-on in the towns of Camden, Damariscotta, Boothbay, Bath and Wiscasset? You can find out at one of the nightly Red Cloak Haunted History Tours, which have been taking place midcoast for years now. Five nights a week, starting at 7 p.m., the Lady takes ghost hunters on a tour and talk through the town and its history. Visit redcloakhauntedhistorytours.com to schedule a tour.

19. The Rocky Horror Picture Show in Ellsworth, Dover-Foxcroft and Bucksport, Oct. 28-29

What better way to celebrate the Halloween season than with a screening of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” the ultimate cult classic? You bring your own fishnets, toast, rice and newspapers and everyone will do the time warp again. The Grand Theatre in Ellsworth will show it at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, and at 11:59 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29; the Center Theater in Dover-Foxcroft will show it at 8 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 28 and 29; and at 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, at the Alamo Theatre in Bucksport. For zombie lovers, the Alamo is also showing “Night of the Living Dead” at 9:50 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22.

20. Fright at the Fort, 5:30 p.m.-9 p.m. Oct. 21-22 and Oct. 28-29, Fort Knox State Park, Prospect

This event is so fun we had to put it on our “25 Things” list two years in a row. Prepare to get yourself mighty spooked with the annual Fright at the Fort, an all-volunteer event meant for older kids, teens and adults. Admission is $5 for a night of Halloween fun. Fort Knox teems with ghosts, goblins, horror icons and much more. It’s not for the faint of heart — especially since Fort Knox makes for such a creepy backdrop. For information, visit http://fortknox.maineguide.com/fright/.

21. Fall Foliage Drive #3: Grindstone Scenic Byway, Medway to Matagamon

The Grindstone Scenic Byway opened in 2007, and few other roads in the state are better to easily experience the Maine woods than this 89-mile trek. Take Exit 244 on I-95 in Medway and proceed to Route 11, where you’ll pass through Stacyville, Sherman and Patten, where you’ll get on Route 159. That road will take you through Mount Chase and Shin Pond before ending at the northern tip of Baxter State Park at Matagamon. You’ll see both sides of the Penobscot River, wonderful views of Katahdin and it’s entirely possible you’ll see a moose — hopefully grazing quietly on the side of the road and not in it.

22. Juice 3.0 Creative Economy Conference, Nov. 4 -5, Camden Opera House

For two days in November, engaged artists, entrepreneurs, community organizers and nonprofit workers will gather in Camden to talk about the state of the creative economy in Maine. Are you one of those people? The Juice 3.0 Conference provides countless opportunities for folks in New England and the Maritimes to network, bounce around ideas and innovate. A pass for both days of the conference is $175 until Sept. 30. If you work in a field that requires you to think creatively, Juice is an opportunity you don’t want to miss. To register, visit juiceconference.org.

23. Maine Harvest Festival, Bangor Auditorium and Civic Center, Nov. 12-13

While the new arena is being built outside, inside the Bangor Civic Center over the weekend of Nov. 12-13 will be a bounty of delicious Maine food and drink. The first-ever Maine Harvest Festival will bring more than 30 vendors to Bangor, selling hot sauce to goat cheese, peanut brittle to pasture-raised pork. The festival goes from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13. Admission is $5.

24. “Dressing Up, Standing Out, Fitting In: Adornment & Identity in Maine, 1750-1950,” through the fall, Maine Historical Society, 489 Congress St., Portland.

Consider yourself a fashionista? See how Mainers from the past two centuries got dressed up at the Maine Historical Society’s fashion in Maine exhibit, which runs into 2012. Hats, jewelry, shoes, hair combs, walking sticks and several complete costumes are on display along with a wide selection of Parisian fashion illustrations. On Oct. 7 and Nov. 4, there will be fashion shows featuring Portland-area designers. For information, visit mainehistory.org.

25. Fall Foliage Bike Trip #3: Deer Isle-Stonington Loop

Cross the causeway from Sargentville to Little Deer Isle, take a left to stay on Route 15, and start pedaling down 15, all the way to Stonington. Or, alternately, you could take a right onto Sunset Cross Road, pedal your way across the island to Sunset Road, and eventually get onto Burnt Cove Road. There are lots of possibilities, and as long as you can get back to Route 15, you’ll never get lost. On the weekends, see a movie at the Stonington Opera House, or have lunch or dinner at The Seasons of Stonington, overlooking Stonington Harbor.

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