Jennifer Hazard was a new mom working at L.L. Bean and chatting with coworkers about what to do with their kids over the weekend when the idea came to her: what if there was a site dedicated to things to do for families in Maine? And what if she wrote it?
She’d been mulling ideas for blogs for awhile. It was 2009 and the number of food blogs on the internet was exploding. But Hazard liked the idea of writing about her young family’s adventures in Maine, so she started Cute Potato not long after. That was about nine years ago, and as her site has grown and ventured to more and more places, so have her two children now ages 12 and almost-11.
For Hazard’s part, the experience blogging has led to awards (Cute Potato was awarded the Down East Magazine 2015 Reader’s Choice Award for Best Blog), a designation as Maine Office of Tourism’s Family Fun Maker and most recently a book. “The Maine Play Book: A Four-Season Guide to Family Fun and Adventure,” by Jennifer Hazard was released in May by Yarmouth-based Islandport Press.
“The Maine Play Book” is a curated guidebook for families that shares what to do in Maine during every season. Within the four seasonal sections, entries are divided by topic and region, featuring farms, nature preserves, parks, events, activities and more.
“I think there’s a lot of wonderful things going on in Maine and it’s always been my love to sort of find those things and sort of guide people toward them,” Hazard said. “My kids are getting older now. In some ways [the book] honors their childhood.”
For parents looking for unplugged fun for their families, “The Maine Play Book” answers the call. “The majority of the adventures in the book are geared towards getting families unplugged and outdoors together,” Hazard said.
Encouraged greatly by her longtime writing group — they used to meet near-weekly, but as their kids have grown meetings have become monthly or bi-monthly — Hazard both drew on her wealth of content on Cute Potato and new experiences.
“I poured through the blog itself and kind of did an outline of the places … we’d gone,” Hazard said. Then she considered where more adventures were needed and devised a list of places for her family to visit on day trips and overnights. The result isn’t an extensive list of everything to do, but rather a curated collection of the very best things to do.
“It doesn’t have every event, every farm, it has those places that really spoke to us,” Hazard said. That includes things like visiting pick-your-own strawberry patches and strawberry festivals where Hazard and her family “stuff ourselves silly with strawberry shortcake.” A good June activity, for sure.
Hazard will be speaking on a panel of authors of L.L. Bean in Freeport at 7 p.m. Friday, June 29, as part of the L.L. Bean Friday night lecture series. Also speaking will be Hope Rowan, author of “Ten Days in Acadia,” and the Bangor Daily News’ Aislinn Sarnacki, author of “Family Friendly Hikes in Maine,” and “Maine Hikes Off the Beaten Path.”
Follow the Bangor Daily News on Facebook for the latest Maine news.