Stilt walker Greg Frangoulis, Shoestring Theater, leads members the of the John Bapst band, choir, football team, cheer team and soccer team along Front Street in the parade to kick off the 2019 American Folk Festival on the Bangor Waterfront Friday evening. Portland’s Shoestring Theatre and Bangor’s John Bapst Memorial High School music program and athletics teamed up to provide an exciting parade to open this year’s American Folk Festival. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik

The 17th annual American Folk Festival kicked off on the Bangor Waterfront on Friday with a parade featuring giant puppets, a stilt walker and musicians and dancers and athletes from the John Bapst High School music and athletic programs.

Shoestring Theatre, a Portland-based performance troupe, brought giant puppets and huge flags to wave for the parade, which marched down Front Street toward the intersection with Railroad Street. Shoestring has led Portland’s annual Halloween parade in the West End neighborhood for more than 30 years, and the group has also been featured in other parades and festivals across New England.

The folk festival this year featured a smaller footprint, with three stages instead of last year’s four, due to continued construction on Railroad Street. The Railroad Stage was instead positioned facing outward toward the Sea Dog, while the Dance Pavilion was renamed the Showcase Stage, with its traditional large dance floor downsized to about a quarter of its previous size. The main entrance to the festival was moved to the corner of Railroad and Front streets, just past the entrance to the Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion.

Other than the smaller physical size, however, the festival featured its usual array of music, food and crafts, with many of the same festival favorite vendors returning to offer such classic folk offerings as grilled chicken on a stick, crabmeat rolls, mini doughnuts and artisan crafts made from everything from wood to alpaca wool.

The festival continues through 6 p.m. Sunday, with more performances from this year’s crop of artists, including the Garifuna Collective, a high-energy Afro-Caribbean ensemble; the Jones Benally Family Dancers, a Navajo music and dance group; Canadian step dance group the Fitzgeralds; and the Don Roy Trio, featuring Maine fiddler Roy, a National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellow.

As on both Friday and Saturday, the weather on Sunday is predicted to remain comfortable and breezy, with temperatures in the mid-70s and nearly cloudless skies.

Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.