BENTON — The sixth annual Benton Alewife Festival kicks off Friday with the annual lobster and alewife dinner, preceding a day of activities at the town’s Family Fun Park.

Deputy Clerk Brandy Meader said a limited number of tickets remain for the dinner, which begins at 5:30 p.m. and ends at 7 p.m. at the Benton Elementary School on 68 School Drive and features guest speaker Danielle D’Auria, a wildlife biologist. Meader said D’Auria will talk about how Benton benefits from the alewives and how they run upstream.

Anyone interested in purchasing a ticket for the dinner may do so at the Town Office on 1279 Clinton Ave. The dinner includes a lobster, a baked potato, alewife chowder, corn on the cob, a yeast roll, Gifford’s ice cream, a cupcake and a drink.

The events recognize the small herring’s annual spring run from the Gulf of Maine to spawn in inland lakes. Benton has the largest run in the state and one of the largest on the East Coast, estimated at nearly three million fish.

Alewives have long been a staple to the area, but over the decades rivers with dams and pollution to the waterways diminished the fish’s population. When dams in Augusta and Winslow were removed a few years ago, alewives returned to the region.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Meader said a festival will be held at the park at 269 Neck Road featuring a number of free events, including a bounce house, face painting, games for kids, smoked alewife samples, hot dogs, popcorn and horse drawn carriage rides. A Fairfield firetruck will be on display. A few events cost money, including riding Go Karts and sliding at the park’s inflatable water slides.

Game wardens from the television show “North Woods Law,” a reality show about patrolling the Maine wilderness broadcast by Animal Planet, will make an appearance. The wardens appeared at last year’s festival, which is free and open to the public.

Larry the Bulldog from Lawrence High School will be there as well, and Delta Ambulance, the Skowhegan National Guard and the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office will make appearances.

Meader said last year’s festival was a huge success and couldn’t even guess at how many people had attended.

“It was crazy busy,” she said. “Food stands were running out.”

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

[email protected]

Twitter: @colinoellis

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