The Maine Harvest Festival in Bangor is something Linda and I look forward to every year. But this year, as the festival held Nov. 19-20 expanded to more than 150 farms and creative producers that matched the slogan “Celebrating Farm Fresh,” we didn’t have nearly enough room to tell you all about it in our Travelin Maine(rs) column.

Please read that travel column, and then let me tell you more here.

Let’s take a walk around the jam-packed Cross Insurance Center, nibbling our way from table to table.

Immediately, we notice a lot of tables with cheeses, including Fuzzy Udder Creamery in Whitefield, Imagine Dairy Farm in Warren, and Wholesome Holmstead in Winthrop. There are some awesome sauces, from Beast Feast Maine in Bridgton to Del Conte Sauces in Hancock. Lots of meat from Springdale Farm in Waldo and Maine Farm Brands in North Anson.

Guini Ridge Farm in Union offered pasture-raised meats and seasonal vegetables and herbs. Actually, there were lots of farms offering fresh produce. And then there was Maine Coast Sea Vegetables in Hancock, “nourishing people with sea vegetables since 1971.”

One of our favorite restaurants was on hand, Morse’s Sauerkraut in Waldoboro, and after talking with the folks at the Fork & Spoon booth about their food and history, we made plans to get up to their Bangor restaurant for lunch sometime, for our travel column. Chris Roberts told us his great grandfather opened the first large scale grocery store in Bangor. His menu looked very tempting.

Farm groups were well represented too, including Maine Farmland Trust and the Maine Potato Council.

And oh, this is a sweet festival! The hot-off-the-grill donuts from Chase Farm Bakery, handed out by two adorable little girls, were very popular! I lingered at the table of Maine Gourmet Chocolates in Auburn, and started drooling when I came to the table of Northwoods Gourmet Girl cookies in Greenville. Balfour Farm in Pittsfield, an organic creamery, was selling caramel candied popcorn. Eureka Farms in Palmyra offered whoopie pies.

We were astonished by the display of mushrooms at the table of Maine Capn’ Stem Mushroom in Westbrook. They grow mushrooms and forage for them, selling them fresh and as an extract with health benefits. North Spore Mushroom Company was selling spore so you could grow your own mushrooms, and their demonstration of how to do that was very interesting. They grow them in a log.

Grey Goose Gourmet offered 14 kinds of pepper jelly, while Sugar Hill Company was selling cranberries and cranberry vinegar. We tried the spicy Kimchi at Gracie’s Garden and the meat at Bag Duce Farm in West Brooksville which advertises, “Pork the way it should be.”

Our favorite mustard makers, Raye’s, were there with a large selection (Hot ‘n Spicy is my favorite).

There were lots of other products too, including Yo Momma’s Apron Strings, one-of-a-kind aprons made from pre-washed cotton. I especially enjoyed the display of photos by Mary Hartt. And this is only a very partial list of all the farms and vendors at the festival.

And then there were the stage shows, 33 in all, on three stages, from live music to a fiber fashion show. My favorite — and you won’t be surprised by this — was Kate Krukowski Gooding’s presentation on wild game cooking. Kate served the audience two lasagnas, both including wild game meat. I savored my serving of the lasagna with moose sausage and beaver. Kate has published a bunch of cookbooks, including Wild Maine Recipes and 50 Ways to Eat a Beaver.

Despite a day of sampling foods (OK, I did most of the sampling while Linda was remarkably restrained), we still had room for a great lunch at our favorite Bangor restaurant, Geaghan’s, located right across the street from the Bangor Auditorium.

A glass of their Smiling Irish Bastard beer, with a delicious Reuben, provided a wonderful ending to a wonderful day.

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