Though March 15, 2020 — the 200th anniversary of Maine’s statehood — is still more than nine months away, the University of Maine will this weekend host a conference exploring many of the topics surrounding how Maine became a state, and where the state is now headed.
The Maine Statehood and Bicentennial Conference is set for Thursday, May 30, through Saturday, June 1, at various locations on the UMaine campus, and will run alongside the first-ever Maine History Festival, set for the afternoon of Friday, May 31.
More than 30 panelists and speakers from Maine’s colleges, tribes and organizations fill a packed three days, alongside musicians, artists and two nationally-recognized historians. UMaine history professor Liam Riordan, former executive director of the UMaine Humanities Center, has organized the event.
“The state of Maine has its 200th birthday coming up, and this is a really great opportunity for us to think a little bit more about the long history of the state, and what we share in this common experience of a long period of Maine statehood,” Riordan said.
The conference begins Thursday afternoon at the Collins Center for the Arts, with speakers and panelists from Maine’s tribes and from UMaine discussing the long, difficult history between Maine’s Wabanaki people and the Europeans that began arriving in the 16th century. The DaPonte String Quartet will then perform a program of early Maine music at 5:30 p.m. at Minsky Recital Hall.
More panels are set for Friday morning and afternoon, including talks about Maine’s relationship to slavery, art and architecture in Maine in the 19th century and on the Aroostook War and the history of Maine’s northern border with Canada.
Friday’s Maine History Festival, set for 2:30-4:30 p.m. at the Collins Center for the Arts, is free and open to the public, and will feature presentations from students and community members on their various areas of interest in Maine history. It will be followed by two lectures at D.P. Corbett Hall from keynote speakers, historians Laurel Thatcher Ulrich and Alan Taylor, both Pulitzer Prize-winners who have made Maine history central to their research and writings.
The conference continues on Saturday at Wells Conference Center, with presentations on early 20th century Maine photography, Maine folk songs and Maine’s public versus private land use issue through the years. A concert from the Bangor Band, among the longest continually operating community bands in the country, will end the conference at 4 p.m.
Though the Maine History Festival and the keynote speakers are free, the rest of the conference is $60 for the general public. For more information, visit the Maine Humanities Center website.