EASTPORT, Maine — This year’s 25th annual salmon festival in the nation’s eastern-most city has been expanded to include more seafood offerings.
Previously known as the Eastport Salmon Festival, it was renamed for 2013 as the Eastport Salmon and Seafood Festival.
The signature event is a grilled salmon dinner held on Sunday. Jeanne Peacock, this year’s chief organizer, noted that people who chose to attend the two-day event were surprised and disappointed to learn the highlight dinner was Sunday rather than the usual Saturday.
The event also now features seafood chowders prepared by local restaurants on Saturday.
“It’s celebrating, really, the bounty of the sea and all the wonderful products we get from Cobscook Bay,” said Peacock.
The festival will be held Aug. 31 to Sept. 1, in the port city, which is located on a small peninsula and surrounded on one side by Cobscook Bay and on the other by the Western Passage of Passamaquoddy Bay.
The chowders will be served 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, and the salmon dinner will be 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday. Both will be held under a tent at the fisherman statue. Additionally, oysters will be served on the half shell from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. both days. (A $12 ticket to the salmon dinner will include a boat ride to nearby salmon aquaculture pens.)
The festival kicks off Friday with a community pie supper 6-7 p.m. at the Unitarian Meetinghouse at 16 Shackford Street, followed by a concert at 7 p.m. at the Eastport Arts Center, 36 Washington Street.
Art lessons for children at the Sutherland Amphitheater 10-11 a.m. Saturday provide a brand new activity for the festival.
Other highlights will include live music from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. under the tent Saturday and at the Eastport Arts Center on Sunday. There will also be the third annual fishing derby, 8 a.m.-noon Saturday at the Coast Guard station. Two dances will be held starting 8 p.m. Saturday with a street dance under the tent and a 50s-60s dance at the Waco Diner.
Activities Saturday include artists at work painting scenes of Eastport, a class in making no-knead breads, trolley tour, walking tour about trees, book signings and a performance by the Passamaquoddy Little Eagles drummers. Sunday’s festivities will include a children’s run at 8:15 a.m. and a 5k race-walk at 9:15 a.m., schooner cruises, an architectural walking tour and an organ concert. A city-wide yard sale also will be conducted both days.
The downtown area is closed off for Saturday and Sunday as vendors set up booths and exhibits on Main Street. This year’s festival will feature 15 vendors.
The first festival was held in 1989, and a group of about 181 people enjoyed the salmon dinner on the fishermen’s pier.
Peacock noted that the festival has grown over the years, but recently has drawn a moderate crowd. Last year, about 400 people enjoyed the salmon dinner, she said, and more people attended the festivities over the two days.
The festival is sponsored by the Eastport Chamber of Commerce.
For a complete schedule, visit eastportsalmonfestival.com.