WATERVILLE — Combined downtown festivals will be held in Waterville this weekend, celebrating local crafts, the autumn harvest and the city’s cultural diversity.

Maine Craft Weekend, organized by Waterville Creates!, will start Friday and offer a variety of events through the weekend. It will overlap with the city’s annual Harvest Fest and the Festival at the Falls, which will be held together Sunday at Head of Falls.

Maine Craft Weekend is a statewide celebration of local artisans and crafters that includes studios, breweries and businesses, but Waterville Creates! and its partners are going a step further by hosting events that put a focus on local crafts.

“I don’t know of any other communities doing what we’re doing,” said Dick Dyer, from Waterville Creates!

“It really comes back to the mission of Waterville Creates!,” he said. “We wanted to work collaboratively with our partners to underscore the statewide celebration of Maine craft.”

The weekend starts Friday with the Maine Crafts Association invitational glass exhibition starting at 5 p.m. at Common Street Arts. PechaKucha Night Waterville, a storytelling format involving short presentations along with images, will be held starting at 7:20 p.m. at the Waterville Opera House, followed by music from gypsy jazz trio Mes Amis. The focuses of the night are crafts and craft beer.

On Saturday, local artisans will do demonstrations from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Castonguay Square. The Colby College Museum of Art will host a free Making Faces mask-making workshop and host tours of the museum from 10 a.m. to noon. Railroad Square Cinema will feature Art in the Lobby with work by Ashley M. Lessner during the day and evening. The Waterville Public Library will have works from ceramic artist Tim Christiansen, print artist Scott Minzy and metal artist Derek Glazer.

Other studios, galleries, breweries and more up and down the Kennebec Valley will hold open houses, tours and tastings as part of the statewide craft weekend. A full list and map of participants can be found at mainecraftweekend.org.

Country music artist Kevin Libby will perform Saturday evening starting at 8 p.m. at the Waterville Opera House. Libby is releasing his first album, “Free Man Yet,” which was produced in Maine, Dyer said.

Thanks to a grant from the Unity Foundation, Waterville Creates! is providing 70 free tickets to the Libby concert to military veterans. The tickets are available on a first-call basis and can be reserved by calling the Waterville Opera House.

On Sunday, Head of Falls will host the Harvest Fest, starting at 10 a.m., and the Festival at the Falls, starting at noon.

The Harvest Fest, now in its 13th year, includes traditional autumn activities such as hayrides, scarecrow making and pumpkin carving, as well as food and entertainment. In addition to covering the free concert tickets, the Unity Foundation grant is covering Harvest Fest children’s activities for military families who preregister by calling Waterville Main Street.

The Festival at the Falls, a celebration of the city’s cultural diversity, features authentic food and live traditional music. It will start a couple hours after the Harvest Fest but will share the space.

Karen Rancourt-Thomas, president of the Franco-American Heritage Society of Kennebec County, thinks that combining the two events will help increase attendance. Many Harvest Fest events are geared toward children and families, while the Festival at the Falls typically draws a more adult crowd.

The event, previously called the Franco-American Festival, was reinvented in 2014 to represent the city’s ethnic diversity and incorporated Lebanese, Irish, Scottish, Jewish, Russian and Finnish traditions and music. At the time, organizers said the changes were necessary to keep the festival alive.

The festival’s fate was in question earlier this year after the Waterville City Council, facing fiscal pressure, voted to cut $4,500 in public funding for the event. It looked as if the festival would be canceled until private donors, including Kevin and Diane Joseph, owners of Joseph’s Market on Front Street, pitched in to salvage it.

This year, food will be provided by the Knights of Columbus, Beth Israel Congregation, the Kotlas Committee and St. Joseph Maronite Church, as well as the annual tourtiere pie contest. Entertainment includes Native American drumming, traditional French music and songs and sonnets from the Recycled Shakespeare Company.

Rancourt-Thomas reported increased interest in the festival since it rebranded itself last year.

Food, of course, is a big draw, Rancourt-Thomas said. People who have never had Lebanese, Jewish or Russian food have an opportunity to try traditional meals of others in the community.

“Food really brings people together,” Rancourt-Thomas said. “Food and music, you can’t really get better than that.”

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire

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