BELFAST, Maine — Three years ago, when Kimberly Callas and the rest of the Belfast Creative Coalition were getting ready for the first “Cultivate: Belfast Area Farm and Art Fall Tour,” they found that would-be participants were a little bit confused.
The tour, which aims to highlight the richness of art, culture and agriculture in midcoast Maine, needed artists who would welcome visitors to their studios and farmers who would show how they use their crops or animals to create consumer products.
“When we first put out the call, people thought they had to be both farmers and artists,” Callas, the executive director of the coalition, said this week. “Farmers were sending pictures of their art and artists were sending pictures of their farms.”
Even though the participants didn’t have to do double duty, she was tickled — and impressed — by the quality and variety of the farmers’ art and the artists’ farms. That kind of dedication and creativity is why the Columbus Day weekend event is so fun to organize and attend, she said.
“One of the neat things around here is that we have so many makers and creators,” Callas said. “I can’t wait. I feel really excited about this year.”
The event began as a way to let people, tourists and locals alike, know about places that are off the beaten track. This year, those include watching David Jacobson do glass blowing at his Montville studio, admiring the alpacas at Good Karma Farm in Belfast and checking out James Macdonald’s custom wood guitars and furniture at his Burnham workshop.
“These are the hidden gems you wouldn’t get to see otherwise,” she said. “It’s been neat to watch it evolve to what it’s meant to be.”
This year, Cultivate will feature stops at 18 different studios, workshops and farms Saturday, Oct. 10, and Sunday, Oct. 11. It is a self-guided tour, and Callas said she recommends folks interested in doing it take time at home with a map or their GPS to figure out their route ahead of time.
“We are talking remote [locations], with spotty cellphone service,” she said.
But once people are on the road, they should expect at least one thing from their foray into what Callas terms “cultural eco-tourism.” That’s the kind of tourism that steers clear of knick-knacks and T-shirts made in faraway locales and instead focuses on what is happening right in front of them.
“I think people get really inspired when they see this quality of work and a dedication to a lifestyle that’s unique,” she said. “One of our taglines is ‘Be Inspired!’ And that’s what I like to see.”
For online printable maps, listings and information on how to take this free farm and art tour, visit belfastcreativecoalition.org. Printed maps also are available at the Belfast Visitor Center at 14 Main St., Belfast, or by calling 323-8692.