November 08, 2019
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Giant puppets and John Bapst musicians kicked off the 17th annual American Folk Festival

Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
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.

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.

Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
Greg Frangoulis, a member of Shoestring Theater for 36 years, sits on the roof of an suv to tie on his stilts that boost him five feet off the ground, as he prepares to lead the parade down Front Street in Bangor 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.

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.

Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
Spectators at Railroad Stage cheer as the American Folk Festival opens on Friday evening.

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.

Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
Fiddlers Julie (left) and Kerry Fitzgerald, of The Fitzgeralds, perform at the 2019 American Folk Festival Friday evening on Railroad Stage. The three siblings and one friend from Ontario put on an energetic show of Ottawa Valley step dancing and music.

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.

Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
The Fitzgeralds perform at the 2019 American Folk Festival Friday evening on Railroad Stage. The three siblings from Ontario (and friend Kyle Waymouth not shown), Julie, Kerry and Tom Fitzgerald (left to right) put on an energetic show of Ottawa Valley music and step dancing.

 



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