ELLSWORTH, Maine — Organizers expect thousands to turn up in downtown Ellsworth for a weekend of festivities and events for the 29th annual Autumn Gold Celebration.
This year’s celebration kicks off Friday, Sept. 28, and ends Sunday, Sept. 30. In addition to the staple events — the auto show, classic car cruise and chowder festival — the Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce has added several other activities, including a canoe and kayak race down the Union River, hot air balloon rides at the Mill Mall, a community health fair and a downtown scavenger hunt.
“It’s a testament to the celebration how many new activities we have,” said Chamber of Commerce Marketing Coordinator Kelly Cochrane on Monday. “It never gets old, and it adapts each year.”
Autumn Gold is scheduled after the summer tourism season, but before peak leaf-peeping takes place across the state. Cochrane said the timing of the festival is a way for locals to slow down after the summer rush and get out into their community.
“It’s about prolonging the season, but it’s also a chance for all of us to see each other if we haven’t over the summer because we’ve all been so busy,” she said. “It’s a chance for us to get out and enjoy our own area.”
A bead, jewelry and fiber show will take place Friday and Saturday at the Schoodic Room in the Ramada Inn. The Ellsworth Lioness Club will host a bazaar 4-8 p.m. Friday at the Ramada’s tennis courts, where visitors can purchase locally made crafts and foods.
The Grand theater will feature selections from the Manhattan Short Film Festival at 7 p.m. Friday.
The big-draw events take place Saturday, with the Autumn Gold Car Show starting at 8 a.m. in the parking lot at Home Depot. More than 150 cars are registered, Cochrane said, in addition to the Acadia Region Corvette Club and the American Legion’s minicars. At 1 p.m., awards will be presented and drivers will parade their cars down High and Main streets.
Throughout the day, the 15th annual Chowderfest will take place at the Waterfront Park. For a $5 fee, attendees can judge between chowders made by nine local restaurants. From the waterfront, families can race rubber ducks, take a boat ride in the Union River or play in a bounce house.
The German spirit will take over a stretch of Franklin Street as Simone’s hosts an Oktoberfest celebration. The beer tent will open at 3 p.m. and the restaurant will serve a prix fixe menu of sauerbraten, schweinebraten, wiener schnitzel and more. In the tent, they’ll serve up bratwurst, sauerkraut, pretzels and more. Polka dancing and the Maine Street R&B Revue will provide entertainment.
Events end Sunday with the city of Ellsworth’s Mussel Canoe and Kayak Race, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Canoes and kayaks are available and entry is free.
Many businesses throughout the city will offer deals and specials to coincide with Autumn Gold. For a complete list of events, visit ellsworthchamber.org.
Follow Mario Moretto on Twitter at @riocarmine.