25 things to do this fall: Food, fairs, festivals and foliage

Eric Zelz | BDN
Posted Sept. 19, 2013, at 1:47 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 26, 2013, at 1:27 p.m.

Common Ground Country Fair, Unity Fairgrounds, Sept. 20-22

At this point, it goes without saying that one of the highlights of the fall season in Maine has to be the Common Ground Country Fair, the three-day celebration of farming, natural living and the beauty of rural Maine. Food, music, education, shopping and some of the best people-watching of the year. If you’ve never been, you’re missing out.

Acadia Night Sky Festival, throughout Hancock County, Sept. 26-30

Maine is one of the only places in the Northeast with low levels of light pollution. The Acadia Night Sky Festival celebrates that with all sorts of activities, including discussions about astronomy, constellations, Native American mythology and nocturnal animals; art-making workshops; a night paddle through Castine’s bioluminescent bay and late-night stargazing in Acadia National Park. Open to all ages; most events are free or inexpensive.

Clash of the Titans, every Wednesday through Nov. 13 at Empire, Portland

This ongoing series pits Portland-area musicians against each other to see whose cover versions of favorite artists reign supreme. This fall’s lineup, at the newly renovated and reopened Empire, features one-night-only bands doing Tom Petty vs. Neil Young (Sept. 25), Billy Joel vs. Elton John (Oct. 2), Adele vs. Amy Winehouse (Oct. 9), Rihanna vs. Katy Perry (Oct. 16), Janet Jackson vs. Paula Abdul (Oct. 23), Nine Inch Nails vs. the Deftones (Oct. 30), Portishead vs. Daft Punk (Nov. 6) and The Doors vs. Jimi Hendrix (Nov. 13). Cover is $6, and it’s 21-plus.

Freeport Theater of Awesome, shows throughout the fall

Looking for something funky and unique to do with your kids? The Theater of Awesome in Freeport — founded by those talented Tardy brothers, Jason and Matt — hosts musical, comedy and circus shows that are fun for the whole family. Check out Rick Charette on Sept. 21; Tim Sample Oct. 4-5; Halloween shows with Audiobody, Oct. 19 and 25-26; comedian Randy Judkins Nov. 8-9; and the Half Moon Jug Band on Nov. 15-16. With tickets at $20 or less, it’s a steal.

Oak and the Ax Festival, Sept. 27-29, The Oak and the Ax, Biddeford

This intimate, exceedingly cool music and art venue in Biddeford hosts an eclectic three days of folk, indie rock and experimental music from all over the Northeast. Highlights range from Rhode Island indie rock band the Low Anthem; Olympia, Wash., rockers Lake; and Maine bands such as soundscapers Afraid, psych-pop band Phantom Buffalo and many others. A pass for the whole weekend is $30.

Great Maine Outdoor Weekend, events statewide, Sept. 27-29

More than 60 different events at state parks, preserves, trails and businesses all over the state, all celebrating the unspoiled beauty of the Maine outdoors. Kayak through a swamp in Norway. Hike Gulf Hagas in central Maine. Look for turtles in Essex Woods in Bangor. Look for hawks on Vinalhaven. For information, visit greatmaineoutdoorweekend.org.

BDN Maine Man Expo, Cross Insurance Center, Bangor, Sept. 28-29

Indoor paintball. A performance from Maine rockers Paranoid Social Club. A hot wing eating contest. An arm-wrestling tournament. Marcus Davis giving an MMA demonstration. A mechanical bull. They say the BDN Maine Man Expo is especially for guys, but we’ve got a feeling there will be plenty of ladies there, too. One of the first public events at the new Cross Insurance Center. Only $5 each day.

Pemaquid Oyster Festival, Schooner Landing, Damariscotta, Sept. 29

All the oysters you can eat are yours for the slurping at the annual Pemaquid Oyster Festival, held in the epicenter of Maine’s oyster farming industry — where the Damariscotta river meets the ocean. Food, music, oyster poetry and an oyster shucking competition are just some of the activities planned. For information, visit pemaquidoysterfestival.com.

North Woods Law Day at Maine Wildlife Park, Gray, 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Sept. 28

Love the Animal Planet show “North Woods Law”? Want to get a chance to meet some of the tough guys that police Maine’s woods? Get down to the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray on Sept. 28, say hello and even meet their canine co-workers. Park admission fees apply.

Portland Museum of Art Biennial: Piece Work, opens Oct. 3

The 2013 Portland Museum of Art Biennial: Piece Work is the eighth in an ongoing series of juried exhibitions showcasing new or recent work by living artists, mostly from Maine. Through a bequest by Maine artist William Thon and his wife, Helen, the biennial began in 1998 and has become a centerpiece of the PMA’s exhibition calendar for artists, audiences and arts professionals in the state of Maine and beyond. This year’s biennial is built around the theme of time, process and labor.

Bangor Book Festival, venues including the Bangor Opera House and the Bangor Public Library, Oct. 4-5

For seven years running, this relaxed celebration of all things literary in Maine has offered timely, inspiring talks and lectures about everything under the sun — from a talk by Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Russo to workshops on gardening, Maine’s coasts and hunting and fishing. This year’s keynote will be Maine author Cathie Pelletier, author of “A Marriage Made at Woodstock,” “The One Way Bridge” and many others.

EMMC Auxiliary Kitchen Tour, six houses in the Bangor area, Oct. 5

See some of the prettiest kitchens in the Bangor area and raise money for a good cause, such as children’s cancer care and scholarships for nursing students. The EMMC Auxiliary Kitchen Tour is set for noon-4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, and will feature treats and demonstrations in six homes around town.

Oktobeerfest, Pickering Square, Bangor, 1-5 p.m. Oct. 5

Bier? Danke! Downtown Bangor’s Oktobeerfest is sponsored by Nocturnem Drafthaus and Town Square Media, and will feature a wide array of German and craft beers, lots of sausage and other German treats, and music from the likes of the Mallett Brothers Band and the Adam Ezra Group. Tickets are just $10.

WERU 25th Anniversary Party, The Grand, Ellsworth, 4 p.m. Oct. 6

Celebrate a quarter-century of music and community with this concert party commemorating the 25th anniversary of WERU-FM, based in Orland. The concert at The Grand in Ellsworth will feature the likes of Noel Paul Stookey, Tim Sample, Dave Mallett, Bill Schubeck and Heidi Daub, and the $22 tickets benefit WERU.

Haunted houses, hayrides and other spooky places, throughout October

There are so many haunted events all over the state that it’s hard to pick just one. Will it be the spine-tingling Kenduskeag Haunted House at the Cole Ball Field, all evening on Oct. 26 and 27? What about Destination Haunt in Lebanon, which features a terrifying walking trail and runs Friday-Sunday through the end of October? Or perhaps the Fright at the Fort in Prospect, an annual spooktacular at Fort Knox that happens the last two weekends of October?

Literary Death Match, Space Gallery, Portland, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 11

Each episode of this competitive, humor-centric, globe-trotting reading series features four authors who perform their most electric writing in seven minutes or less before a lively audience and a panel of three all-star judges. The Portland edition will feature Bill Roorbach, Jessica Anthony, Mira Ptacin and one more author to be announced. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door.

Great Ellsworth Puppet Festival, The Grand, Ellsworth, 1, 3 and 6 p.m., Oct. 12

Three great puppetry troupes perform three delightful stories for youngsters on Saturday, Oct. 12. At 1 p.m. Tanglewood Marionettes present “Cinderella,” at 3 p.m. Nappy’s Puppets present “Mother Goose Shadow Puppets,” and at 6 p.m. Maine’s own Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers present “The Headless Horseman.” Admission for all three performances for children 12 and under is $15; adults are $30.

Open Creamery Day, farms and creameries statewide, Oct. 13

Mmm, cheese. Fromage lovers can visit Maine creameries on Sunday, Oct. 13, and see the creatures that make the milk (cow, sheep and goat) and the humans who make the cheese. Appleton Creamery in Appleton, Balfour Farm in Pittsfield, Flying Goat Farm in Acton, Kennebec Cheesery in Sidney, Lakin’s Gorges Cheese in Rockport, Seal Cove Farm in Lamoine, Silvery Moon Creamery in Westbrook, Spring Day Creamery in Durham, State of Maine Cheese Co. in Rockport, Sunflower Farm Creamery in Cumberland and Winter Hill Farm in Freeport are participating.

Belfast Poetry Festival, Belfast Free Library and the Hutchinson Center, Oct. 18-19

Is there a town that loves poetry more than Belfast? Probably not. This annual festival pairs Maine poets with Maine artists to create a unique creative evening of sharing and discovering. It starts with a Friday open reading at the library and continues Saturday with workshops all day and the multimedia art and poetry show from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Hutchinson Center.

Damnationland: The Way Life Should Bleed, State Theatre, Portland, Oct. 18

Six Maine horror films will be shown on the big screen at the State Theatre in Portland for Damnationland, an annual traveling show of Maine-made short ’n’ scary movies. The show is at 8 p.m. and tickets are $10.

Harvest on the Harbor, Ocean Gateway Pier, Portland, Oct. 24-26

As the harvest begins to recede from its peak, the annual Harvest on the Harbor in Portland celebrates the bounty and beauty of Maine food. Events such as the grand tasting, the Maine Lobster Chef of the Year competition, the international tasting, the Farm to Table Chef competition, wine and beer tastings, barbecue and an enormous sampling pavilion show off the best of the best. For ticket information, visit the website.

Bangor Zombie Walk, Bangor Waterfront, 4 p.m. Oct. 26

The first year, there were maybe 30 people. The next year, there were more than 150. This year, the organizers of the Bangor Zombie Walk are expecting even more people in their best zombie duds to come out and stalk the streets of Bangor. Zombie cartoon characters, zombie animals, little kid zombies, zombie politicians, even old-fashioned brain-loving zombies.

Medieval Feasts, Franco-American Heritage Center, Lewiston, 6 p.m. Nov. 8-9

The Franco center’s Medieval Feast — featuring kings, queens, knights, minstrels and the occasional court jester — has become one of the Lewiston venue’s most entertaining and fun events of the season. With nary a utensil to be found in the entire kingdom, you’ll eat with your bare hands, wash it down with the grog of your choice, and be entertained by the Medieval Players – a group of local actors straight out of the 14th century. Tickets are $35.

Brunswick Winter Market, Fort Andross Mill Complex, opens Nov. 10

It’s sad when farmers market season is over — but don’t tell that to the folks at the Brunswick Winter Market, which hosts one of the busiest wintertime markets in the state. There is lots of local food from produce and meat to cheese and pickles, and crafters and artisans to keep your shopping bug at bay. It’s held from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays at the Fort Andross Mill Complex.

Maine Harvest Festival, Cross Insurance Center, Bangor, Nov. 16-17

Now in its fourth year, this two-day celebration of Maine goodies has a new home in the brand-new Cross Insurance Center — meaning there are even more vendors, speakers and food-centric activities. Admission is $6. Bring money — you’ll want to spend it.

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