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There is only one drawback to summer in Maine: By the time it’s officially summer — June 21 this year — the three warmest months of the year are already crammed with weddings, reunions, cookouts and much-needed sojourns to camp. Can’t very well plan a lakeside barbecue in January, can you? Nevertheless, should you find yourself with a weekend free or a surprise Tuesday off, we here at the BDN again offer you a list of events, places, and things to do, see, touch, hear and taste around the great state of Maine — 25 of them, in fact. Have a safe, warm, fun and memorable summer.
Maine Hot Wing Cook-Off Challenge, 4-8 p.m. Saturday, June 22, at Ocean Gateway, Portland Waterfront
For $20, you can spend the evening of June 22 eating all the chicken wings you possibly can from more than 10 great Portland-area restaurants. If that’s not a great deal, we’re not sure what is — though you might want to be prepared for some of the spicier options on the menu. There will be $4 drafts of Sea Dog and Shipyard beers (it’s a 21-plus event) and there’s live music from the Dappered Gents. Grab extra napkins.
ImprovAcadia’s 10th anniversary season, shows 8 p.m. Monday-Saturday — 10 p.m. shows in July and August — 15 Cottage St., Bar Harbor
For the past decade, the hilarious crew at ImprovAcadia has been bringing nationallyrecognized comedic talent to the island. For $17, you get a night’s worth of PG-rated belly laughs. The 10 p.m. shows, which run in July and August only, are geared toward adults. It’s some of the best improv you’ll see in the state. For ticket reservations and information, visit improvacadia.com.
The Festival Portland, June 21-22, Portland Company Complex, 58 Fore St.
Beer geeks, unite: The Festival, a traveling brew fest, happens this year in Portland, and holy moly, what a lineup. Some of the most acclaimed breweries from around the world will have tastings at each of three sessions, set for 6:30 p.m. Friday, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Brewers from Belgium, Denmark, France, the U.K., Spain, the Czech Republic, Norway, Sweden, New Zealand, Canada and states from California to Maine are to be featured. When you see the full list, you’ll understand the $65-per-session price. Visit the-festival.us to get yours.
Haystack Mountain School of Craft Evening Program Series, June 10-Aug. 30, Deer Isle
The gorgeous campus of Haystack, the art center in Deer Isle, has attracted thousands of world-renowned visual, literary and musical artists over the years. Recently, the school has been offering between three and four free, open-to-the-public lectures and presentations by its artists in residence each week. This year, some of the artists set to talk about their work include experimental music icon Pauline Oliveiros (June 24), author Bill Roorbach (July 15), fiber artist Sonya Clark (July 18), Afro-Cuban jazz musician Yosvany Terry (July 29) and author Audrey Niffenegger (Aug. 13). All presentations start at 7:30 p.m.
Port Fringe, June 26-30, venues throughout downtown Portland
Five days of theater — and not your ordinary theater — in four venues across downtown Portland. There are musicals, such as “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and “Mr. Marmalade.” There is sketch comedy, there is burlesque, belly dancing, carnival arts from Dark Follies and short films; one-woman plays and full theatrical productions. In short, there’s something for everybody. Admission is $10 per performance, $25 for three shows, $55 for seven shows and $55 for 25. For information, visit portfringe.com.
Red Cloak Haunted History Tours, weekly in Camden, Damariscotta, Wiscasset, Boothbay and Bath
Since 2007, Sally Lobkowicz and her fellow tour leaders have been leading the Red Cloak Haunted History tours throughout the midcoast. Using her trademark red cloak with period dress from the 1800s and combining well-researched facts with her unique storytelling style, Lobkowicz tells the history of coastal Maine with a splash of the spooky and the strange. In late June and in July and August, all tours are at 7:30 p.m. For a full schedule, or to reserve a private tour, visit redcloakhauntedhistorytours.com.
Kingfield Pops, 4:30 p.m. Saturday, June 29, Kennedy Farm, Kingfield
This annual outdoor Pops concert with the Bangor Symphony Orchestra is a lovely way to liven up the early summer days. The BSO, led by Maestro Lucas Richman, plays a program of popular hits, accompanied by Canadian music group the Sultans of String and Maine songwriter Anni Clark. Extra entertainment will be provided by the Smith Brothers, Flight 317 and the Western Mountain Trash Band, and the concert is preceded by an all-day arts festival. General admission is $20 in advance, $25 at the gate and, perhaps best of all, it’s free for youth 17 and under.
Visit an Audubon Center, all summer long, locations statewide
Get in touch with nature with ease. Maine’s Audubon Sanctuaries and centers can be found throughout the state, though only three of them have facilities with rentals and full-time staffing. At Fields Pond in Holden, there’s a huge network of lovely, gentle trails and a nature center offering an abundance of programs. At Gisland Farm just outside of Portland there’s wildlife spotting and walking to be done, and at Scarborough Marsh there’s some of the best canoeing and kayaking in the state as well as bird watching. For information, visit maineaudubon.org.
Roller derby bouts, statewide, from Maine Roller Derby, Bangor Roller Derby, Central Maine Roller Derby and the Rock Coast Rollers
Want to have a hoot of a time at an action-packed sporting event? Look no further than a roller derby bout, an athletic scene that’s been exploding in Maine over the past few years. There are now four derby teams statewide, including Portland’s Maine Roller Derby (next bout on June 22), the Rock Coast Rollers out of Rockland (next bout June 29), Bangor Roller Derby and Central Maine Roller Derby (next bouts TBA). Visit all the teams on Facebook for more information.
L.L. Bean Concert Series, kickoff July 4, L.L. Bean flagship store, Freeport
The free outdoor concert series gets started at L.L. Bean in Freeport with a three-day festival, beginning with songwriter Matt Nathanson on July 4, music from the David Wax Museum and performances from Audiobody and the Yo Yo People on July 5, and Maine favorites Amy Allen, Endless Interstate and the Pete Kilpatrick Band on July 6. Other concerts this summer include The Head and the Heart Aug. 3, Guster on Aug. 10 and Joshua Radin on Aug. 31. For a full schedule, visit the L.L. Bean website.
Owls Head Transportation Museum classic and antique vehicle shows, through late August
Whether you like things with four wheels, two wheels or a set of wings, the Owls Head Transportation Museum has events all summer for gearheads of all ages. July 6-7 there’s a meet for cars from the 1950s and ’60s as well as an antique aeroplane show. July 20-21, check out an array of vintage trucks, tractors and other commercial vehicles, and more antique aeroplanes. Aug. 3-4, any and all vintage vehicles are welcome, and there’s also an air show, and on Aug. 17 there’s the 36th annual New England Auto Auction, one of the biggest and best in the region. Close the summer out with a vintage motorcycle meet Aug. 31-Sept. 1. Adults are $12, kids under 18 free. For information, visit ohtm.org.
Bates Dance Festival, July 9-Aug. 10, Bates College, Lewiston
A month of stunning dance from all over the country. A rare opportunity to see both established and emerging dance talent in Maine. The Bates Dance Festival is one of the oldest and most respected festivals of its kind in the nation. Some highlights from this summer include performances from NY2Dance, a Middle Eastern ensemble, set for July 9, 12 and 13; choreographer Doug Varone and Dancers July 16, 18 and 20; the renowned Bebe Miller Company July 23, 26 and 27; and many others. Tickets are available online at batesdancefestival.org/tickets.php.
Arootsakoostik Music Festival, July 13, Thomas Park, New Sweden
Take the drive north, up Interstate 95 and Route 1, all the way to New Sweden, the sweet little town that for one day in July becomes the most vibrant place for music in Maine. Travis Cyr, a songwriter and ambassador for the musical life of The County, this year has brought together everyone from the Mallett Brothers Band and the Ghost of Paul Revere to a reunited Wes Hartley and the Traveling Trees and the Waldo County folk of Mister Moon. All at Thomas Park. Admission for all ages is $18, which benefits the park itself, and the medical costs for longtime Arootsakoostik friend Dave Lamb of the band Brown Bird, who is without health insurance and battling cancer.
Portland Flea-For-All, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, Kennebec Street, Portland
Each weekend, the vintage, antique and artisan marketplace known as the Portland Flea-For-All pops up in the Bayside neighborhood, bringing with it clothes, media, home decor, accessories and other trinkets made and collected by Mainers. The First Friday of each month, Flea-For-All also includes Flea Bites, a roundup of food trucks. Eat, shop, support local people. What could be better? For information, visit portlandfleaforall.com.
Colby College Museum of Art grand reopening, Saturday, July 13, Waterville
After a multimillion-dollar renovation and the grand gift of the Lunder Collection, a major collection of American and international art, the Colby College Museum of Art will reopen on July 13 as one of the finest college art museums in the country. The Alfond-Lunder Pavilion will house a rotating selection of some of the hundreds of pieces included in the collection. The museum is free and open to the public; hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sundays.
Open Farm Day, Sunday, July 21, farms statewide
Pack the kids in the car and take the whole family out to see the beautiful productivity of Maine’s farms. Whether it’s goats, chickens and cows or tomatoes, broccoli and berries, there are plenty of places to check out what’s going down on the farm. Visit getrealmaine.com for a full list of all participating farms.
Outdoor Shakespeare performances, statewide, all summer
All the world’s a stage, isn’t it? Parks, fields, farms, you name it — theater companies statewide each summer offer up classics from the Bard, under the stars. Bring a blanket, bug spray and a picnic and listen to the music of his words. Ten Bucks Theatre has performances of “The Tempest” at 6 p.m. July 18-20 and July 25-27 and at 4 p.m. July 21 and 28 at Indian Trail Park in Brewer, and at 6 p.m. Aug. 1-4 at Fort Knox State Park in Prospect. Meanwhile, MaineStage Shakespeare in southern Maine will perform “Much Ado About Nothing” and “Hamlet,” alternating from July 5 through Aug. 10, with some performances of “The Complete Works of Shakespeare Abridged” in between; check mainestageshakespeare.com and tenbuckstheatre.com for more inforomation.
Maine summer books to read, both fiction and nonfiction
Whether you’re on a beach, on a porch, in a hammock or a tent, or just lazing about the house, there are plenty of Maine books to while away the warm summer hours. A few suggestions include “The One Way Bridge” by Cathie Pelletier, set in the fictional Maine town of Mattagash; “Old Tales of the Maine Woods” by Steve Pinkham, a collection of Maine hunting and fishing yarns; “When We Were the Kennedys,” Monica Wood’s memoir of growing up in the town of Mexico; or Ron Currie’s “Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles,” a funny, metafictional story set in Maine, the Caribbean and other international locales. Check your local bookstore for availability.
The Bucksport Bay Festival, July 26-28, locations throughout Bucksport
This pretty little town just upriver from Penobscot Bay hosts a fun and almost completely free family festival every year . There’s the usual stuff — a parade, a dessert competition that for just $3 anyone can enter to taste and judge, live music and a pancake breakfast. But then there’s the human gyroscope, the community karaoke contest, and Civil War re-enactments just across the bridge in Prospect at Fort Knox. A great way to spend a midsummer day with the family. For updates, check out the festival on Facebook.
Grand Lake Stream Folk Arts Festival, July 27-28, Grand Lake Stream
Grand Lake Stream is the best kind of boonies there is — a close-knit community in a gorgeous corner of Washington County. Each year the town holds its Folk Arts Festival, bringing together sculptors, potters, jewelers, woodworkers, fabric artists, food artisans, soapmakers, painters, designers and countless others to show off their wares. There’s music, too, with everyone from the Machias Ukulele Orchestra to the Perpetual E-Motion contra band. For information, visit grandlakestreamfolkartfestival.com/index.html.
Sweet Chariot Music Festival, Aug. 6-8, Swan’s Island
Here’s an event that has some very specific requirements. First, the ferry to Swan’s Island doesn’t run at night, so you’ve got to find accommodations on-island, or arrive on your own boat and either take it back that night or arrange a mooring and sleep on it. Once you’ve figured all that out, though, the Sweet Chariot Music Festival is a magical midweek adventure for seafarers and music fans alike. Folk, blues and maritime music are on the bill, with musicians ranging from David Dodson to Moira Smiley, fiddlers and pipers to drummers and singers. There are 3:30 p.m. sea chanties on boats in Burnt Cove Harbor — must have boat — and there are 7:30 p.m. evening concerts at the Swan’s Island Oddfellow’s Hall. Tickets for the night shows are $20 per person; for info, visit sweetchariotmusicfestival.com.
Maine Antiques Festival, Aug. 9-11, Union Fairgrounds
Antiques lovers salivate when they think about the Maine Antiques Festival, held yearly at the Union Fairgrounds. More than 50 booths of antiques of all kinds imaginable — some of which you might not see in shops around the state — are set up for your perusing and purchasing pleasure. There are food vendors, too. Admission is $10, and an early bird weekend pass that gets you into Friday’s session is $25. Hours 2-5 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.
30th annual Beach Olympics, Aug. 16-18, Old Orchard Beach
Three days of fun competition, music, displays and a presentation to benefit Special Olympics of Maine. Contests include beach volleyball, sand castle building, water balloon races, crab races, an ice cream eating contest, bubble gum blowing and a dressing and undressing contest. A lanyard to participate is $5 and is available at the competition. Events take place on the beach, in the town square and at Palace Playland.
American Folk Festival, Aug. 23-25, Bangor Waterfront
Now in its 12th year, the AFF hasn’t stopped being a relaxing, culturally diverse way to spend a weekend in the Queen City. All the food, all the fun, all the music, shopping and people-watching you know and love, back for another year. Your donation helps keep the festival going; your energy keeps making it a destination event.
Eastport Pirate Festival, Sept. 6-8, Eastport
Arrrrrrrrrr you ready? OK, we’ll dispense with the bad puns and get straight to the booty: The Eastport Pirate Festival is three days of seaside revelry, kicked off by the “invasion” of Eastport by the Pirates of the Dark Rose, a crew of Maine pirates with their own pirate ship. There’s a pirate parade, a pirate pageant, bed races, fireworks, kids activities, food and music and lots more, all in one of the prettiest, artsiest small towns in Maine. Reserve accommodations soon — or just visit the festival on Facebook.