AUGUSTA — The arrival of summer in Maine is marked with windjammer gatherings, riverfront festivals and the oldest Midsommar celebration in America.
The Margaretta Day Festival happens on June 11 in Machias. The town’s victorious sea battle at the start of the American Revolutionary War is celebrated with a parade, live music, activities for children, an antler toss competition, demonstrations of blacksmithing and timber framing, and an encampment of soldiers and Passamaquoddy Indians.
Portland kicks-off summer with the 38th Annual Old Port Festival on June 12. There’s a funky, foot-powered parade down Exchange Street, live music and performers on multiple stages, ethnic arts and food, and the works of more than 90 Maine artists and craftspeople for show and sale.
The central Maine communities of Gardiner, Hallowell, Augusta and Winthrop will offer fun events for all ages during the2011 Whatever Family Festival June 17-July 4. Happenings range from seaplane rides from the Kennebec River to free music concerts, a half-marathon and multiple 5K races, fireworks shows, open houses and free tours at local attractions and historic sites, art and craft shows, and Kid’s Day in Augusta’s Capitol Park on June 26.
The 141st MidsommarFest takes place June 17-19 in New Sweden and neighboring Aroostook County towns. It is America’s longest-running celebration of the summer solstice, started by Swedish immigrants who settled New Sweden in 1870. Decorating, raising and dancing around the maypole, making hair wreaths and dala horse paintings, and kubb lawn bowling are traditional festival activities, along with Swedish music and food.
Summer officially starts in Boothbay Harbor when Maine’s historic windjammer fleet sails into town for the 49th Annual Windjammer Days Festival June 21-22. Events include the parade of sail, ship crew competitions, windjammer and U.S. Coast Guard Station tours, an antique boat parade, street parade, activities for children and fireworks over the harbor.
Summer bicycle touring
The Eastern Trail is the southern gateway to Maine’s portion of the East Coast Greenway. The 80-mile route takes bicyclists through the rural countryside and villages of southern Maine as well as historic mill towns and oceanside beaches.
The central Maine city of Waterville is the departure point for a 49-mile loop tour to the China Lakes region. The trip through the charming and scenic villages of China Lake, Palermo, Windsor and Vassalboro has short but steep hills, and many possibilities for picnic spots. The route has 40- and 22-mile loop options.
The wide open landscape of Aroostook County’s potato fields is the setting for a 50-mile tour through Presque Isle, Washburn, Caribou and Fort Fairfield. Catch the pink and white show of potato blossoms in late June and early July, and stop at the Aroostook Agricultural Museum to learn about the local industry.
Leaving the coast for a lobster roll
The Maine Office of Tourismn recently asked its 18,000 Facebook friends for suggestions of delicious lobster rolls north of Route 1 and away from the coast. Here are five of their favorites:
Eagles Nest Restaurant (207-989-7635) on Route 9 in the eastern Maine city of Brewer serves a toasted hot dog roll smothered with big chunks of lobster mixed with mayo. Save room for the strawberry shortcake with real whipped cream and a fresh biscuit.
The Country Bakery (207-425-4140) on Route 1 in the Aroostook County town of Bridgewater is known for its fresh doughnuts, breads and pastries. And once a week (usually on Wednesday) during the summer, many customers also line up for the area’s best lobster roll.
There’s a good chance that a roll or two from Soup To Nuts (207-746-5499) on Route 11 in East Millinocket have made it to the summit of Mt. Katahdin. The sit-down restaurant near Baxter State Park is open Tuesday through Saturday.
Chicken baskets and mocha shakes draw crowds to Belanger’s Drive-In & Dairy Bar (207-453-2447) on Route 201 in Fairfield, but it’s also a favorite lobster roll destination in central Maine.
Sideline Variety in Norway is a convenient stop on the way to lakes and hiking trails in western Maine. The seasonal, large lobster roll here is just $9.99.
For more information about Maine’s early summer events, go to www.visitmaine.com.
Diving to See a lost lighthouse
Tour boats give passengers close-up water views of Maine lighthouses, but the best view of Crabtree Ledge Light is under the water. The 37-foot tall cast iron light that once marked a dangerous ledge off Hancock Point in Sullivan was discontinued in 1933 and fell into the ocean in 1950. Dive Downeast leads dive trips to the wreckage site where the partially intact tower rests amid crabs, starfish, sea urchins and lobsters.
Penobscot Marine Museum
The Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport will celebrate three quarters of a century this year with the exhibit 75 for 75 – 75 Choice Items from 75 Years of Collecting. The exhibit will show the most important, valuable, beautiful and rare items from its permanent collection, including marine paintings, small craft, personal effects of ship captains, and the gifts they brought back to Penobscot Bay from the Caribbean, Africa and Asia.