The Travelin Maine(rs), George and Linda Smith of Mount Vernon, have spent their lifetimes enjoying all that Maine has to offer. Now they’ll tell you all about it — their favorite inns, restaurants, trips, activities, experiences, and travel books and websites — in their own personal style. They’ll be offering anecdotes, tips and all the details you need. So join them in exploring, experiencing and enjoying the great state of Maine.

 

The American Folk Festival on Bangor’s beautiful waterfront always puts an exclamation point at the end of our summer.

Friends Gary and Deb Dubord of Fayette introduced us to the festival four years ago. After that event, we were disappointed that we missed the first five festivals. This is a fantastic three-day celebration full of music, dancing, arts and crafts, storytelling and food.

We attended our first three festivals for a single day, then advanced last year to two days, traveling back and forth on Saturday and Sunday. This year we’ll be there for all three days — Friday night through Sunday.

We’re parking our car for the entire weekend and staying at the Fireside Inn and Suites, within walking distance of the festival and downtown Bangor. While we look forward to sampling the food at the festival, we also hope to sneak into the Sea Dog Brewing Company — also on the waterfront — for lunch and find a couple of other restaurants to review for you.

Linda

While we were a little late jumping on this event, we’re so grateful to Deb and Gary for introducing us to the festival. Now it’s a part of our summer schedule.

George loves music. Period. Gospel, folk, country, blues or Zydeco — whatever’s playing is his favorite. And that’s why, for us, this festival is so great.

The Bangor Festival is like a box of assorted chocolates — something for everyone’s taste. Groups from around the world come here each year. And the festival’s organizers make sure there is a wide range of musical styles.

The atmosphere is contagious. Everyone is here to have fun. Crowds can be thick on a sunny Saturday or Sunday but not overwhelming. Parking is provided at Bass Park (Bangor Civic Center) and shuttle buses drop you off at either end of the sprawling festival grounds. There are also chauffeured golf carts for anyone who needs them.

Vendors offer an amazing variety of great food. The most stressful part of the day is trying to narrow down what you want to eat! I’m remembering great barbeque, blooming onion and delicious Indian food. Their thirst-quenching, fresh-squeezed lemonade is perfect. Mmmmm.

Getting a sampling of many types of music while relaxing in a lawn chair (they have seats set up, but we always bring our own) is a great way to wrap up the summer before heading back to school. Don’t forget the sunblock!

George

I fell in love with the Quebe sisters at the Bangor Folk Festival. And Linda was there to see it. These dynamic Texas fiddlers — Hulda, Grace and Sophia — play and sing with the best of them. In fact, I’m playing their original CD while writing this column, and my foot’s a stompin’.

Every festival, I find a few new musical acts to love — and I’ve got a row of CDs to prove it. The high quality of the performers here is very impressive.

Last year the jazz of Dr. Michael White just blew me away. Another year, it was the haunting voice and ballads of Appalachia’s Elizabeth LaPrelle.

The four stages are set up along the waterfront. You can move around or sit all day at one venue. There is inside seating at some venues but most of the seats are outside.

Although the festival is free, the “Bucket Brigade” of volunteers is on site soliciting donations and handing out lapel stickers. They suggest a daily donation of $10, but any and all contributions are received with a smile and a thank you.

Don’t Miss It!

I’ve just finished looking at the festival’s website that lists all of this year’s performers and vendors, and I can’t wait.

They’ll have 33 food and beverage vendors, from Millinocket’s best restaurant, River Driver’s, to the St. George Greek Orthodox Church. You can get veggie dishes at Maine Falafal Company, seafood at Maine Smoked Salmon and for us meat-eaters, there’s Fat Guy’s Concession. Look for me there!

There are also 11 vendors in the special Taste of Maine area, selling everything from French Acadian ploy mixes to Pastor Chuck Orchard’s all-natural applesauce.

Forty-five vendors of arts and crafts offer wonderful Maine made products, and several top-notch storytellers will entertain you. The Children’s Village is organized by Maine Discovery Museum and features four “neighborhoods” full of exciting projects for the kids.

The 14 musical acts pack a real WOW factor this year: LeRoy Thomas, the “Jewel of the Bayou, with a diverse repertoire of Zydeco, Cajun, and R&B, Mississippi’s Super Chikan, a blues musician, artist and guitar maker who began composing music while working as a long-haul truck driver.

You’ll be dancing after the Hot Club of Cowtown, from Austin, Texas, takes the stage and breaks out in western swing.

Acapella is represented by the Brotherhood Swingers, while Samba Ngo presents a unique guitar style from his home village in the Congo. I love a brass band and look forward to the Stooges Brass Band from New Orleans. They’ll lead the kick-off parade on Friday night.

Revillons (whose name means “Wake Up”) will surely do that with their lively Quebecois harmonies, if you’re getting tired and drowsy. But maybe it’ll be the Rhythm of Rajasthan that captures your fancy, with their traditional rhythms and melodies from the state of Rajasthan in India.

For me, I expect to be purchasing some of Maine resident Seamus Connolly’s CDs. Seamus is a native of Killaloe, County Clare in Ireland, and has won the Irish National Fiddle Championship ten times!

But this folk festival is about a lot more than music. It’s a celebration of the end of summer. Come celebrate with us, and be sure to say “hi” if you see us there!

If You Go

ON THE WEB: www.americanfolkfestival.com.

The website includes a site map and full performance schedule.

PHONE: 992-2630

TO GET THERE: On I-95 north, take the first Bangor Exit, head into the city, and follow the signs to Bass Park’s ample parking (for a small fee). Friday from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., Saturday from noon to 10:30 p.m., and Sunday noon to 6:30 p.m., rain or shine.

WHERE TO STAY: Fireside Inn & Suites

wwwfiresideinnbangor.com

942-1234


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