Mainers love good food, and in the summer they love to celebrate it.

Lobster, blueberries, potatoes, even that love-it-or-hate-it soda known as Moxie – Maine has long shared its affection for such bounty through summer food festivals. This year, three new festivals will be joining the mix, all in southern Maine.

The Down East Lobster Roll Festival, July 8 at Thompson’s Point in Portland, is a long-overdue tribute to Maine’s favorite sandwich and will include a “World’s Best Lobster Roll” competition.

The other festivals will be less traditional. As Maine has grown more serious about food and where it comes from, its food festivals have followed suit. Two of the three new events will be digging deeper, offering more than sampling and sunburns.

Maine Fare is back this month, after taking last year off. Once a two-day festival held in Belfast, the re-imagined Maine Fare offers six food-related events throughout June, which started with a sold-out tasting tour at Portersfield Cider in Pownal on June 4. Other events, scattered over southern midcoast Maine, include a daylong, nose-to-tail butchery workshop in Freeport and Brunswick, a farm tour and cheese-making demonstration in Whitefield, and a boat trip down the Damariscotta River to visit oyster farms (and eat a few oysters too, of course).

Organizers at the Maine Farmland Trust took a break last year to reconfigure the festival, which had become so big in Belfast they felt that their message was getting “watered down,” Ellen Sabina of Maine Farmland Trust said.pth of content and education, and it’s hard to do when you’re also trying to create something that’s really fun and that attracts all ages,” she said. “With this approach, we’re hoping to give people opportunities to really dig a little deeper into more intimate, hands-on settings and be talking directly with producers and people that are deeply involved in the topics that we’re presenting this year.”

Sabina said the organization also liked the idea of having a “roving food event” with activities moving from place to place, highlighting different regions and producers.

Maine Fare will conclude on June 25 with a “collaborative dinner” at The Freight Shed in Bath. Chef Sam Hayward and a team of chefs will prepare a four-course meal, and each table will be given a food-related topic to discuss. The other chefs will be Nate Nadeau, chef de cuisine at Fore Street; Josh Potocki of 158 Pickett Street Café; Eloise Humphrey and Daphne Comaskey of Salt Pine Social and El Camino in Brunswick; and Ben Hasty of Thistle Pig in South Berwick.

The Portland Food Launch and Festival, which will be held June 22 at Thompson’s Point, will combine serious daytime education sessions for food entrepreneurs who are trying to launch a business with the fun of an evening food festival.

The event, sponsored by the Greater Portland Council of Governments, Fork Food Lab and Norway Savings Bank, is an outgrowth of Portland’s federal designation as a food production cluster, and will show entrepreneurs how to navigate “the finance ecosystem for food,” explained Caroline Paras, community and economic planner at the council.

“It’s a daylong event with something for everyone,” she said, “but the morning and afternoon are really focused on helping food entrepreneurs and existing food businesses scale up to the next level, so it has a totally different audience than the typical food festival.”

Paras said two announcements will be made at the event. The first will be new branding –”Greater Portland Sustainable Food Production Cluster” is a mouthful – that will be more “aspirational and descriptive.” The more meaty disclosure will be the creation of a new standalone food manufacturing revolving loan fund that will offer low-interest loans to food entrepreneurs. Crystal Deering-Robichaud, owner of Beacon Blessings in Oxford, can’t wait to attend the “scaling up” workshop. She recently quit her job in a dental office to focus on expanding her business. Deering-Robichaud raises 400 organic chickens on her farm each year, sells eggs, and produces a line of jams, jellies and barbecue sauce that she sells online and at five weekly farmers markets. She is building her own commercial kitchen, and hopes to add pork and maple syrup products to her food line soon.

Workers tend to strawberries in the fog at Maxwell’s Farm, one of several Cape Elizabeth farms that participate in the annual Strawberry Festival. Staff photo by Ben McCanna

“I am definitely at that point where I could utilize just a little bit of extra mentoring, or maybe coaching,” she said.

After networking all day, Deering-Robichaud will be able to mingle with her peers at the evening food festival, which will feature 40 Maine food vendors. Yes, the public can sample (and taste 11 local craft beers), but the point of the event is to show support for local food businesses, Eric Holstein of Fork Food Lab said.

“A lot of them are tiny businesses that could never afford to do something like an Old Port Festival,” he said. “They’re just starting out, maybe launching their product for first time, and this is their first attempt at showing their products to the world.”

Local crafters will also be represented, dishing up food-themed work – think knives, and salt and pepper shakers, and even a little art. Kids will be able to participate in a scavenger hunt and make animals out of fondant, while their parents take a trip on a virtual reality lobster boat.

Hungry for more? Here’s information on the aforementioned food festivals as well as many others scheduled for this summer.


WHEN: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 29

WHERE: Skowhegan State Fairgrounds

HOW MUCH: Free admission, but parking costs $3

WHY GO: If you’re not one of those people who is terrified of carbohydrates, this is the event for you. It’s the finale of the annual Kneading Conference, which attracts talented bakers from all over the country. At least 60 vendors will be selling their breads, pastries, baking tools and books.



WHEN: Pig roast and lobster bake from 6 to 9 p.m. June 23; strawberry festival from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 24

WHERE: Pig roast and lobster bake at Shady Oak Farm, 30 Fowler Road, Cape Elizabeth; strawberry festival at Maxwell’s strawberry field on Two Lights Road, Cape Elizabeth

HOW MUCH: $35 for the pig roast/lobster bake (sells out fast); strawberry festival is free

WHY GO: Great way to celebrate strawberry season, with food, music, and – of course – lots of strawberries. The menu for the June 23 dinner includes lobster, pork, salad, corn on the cob, roasted potatoes, appetizers, coffee, lemonade, and dessert.



WHEN: July 10-15

WHERE: Manson Park, Pittsfield

HOW MUCH: No admission fee

WHY GO: “Egglympics” contest for kids, quiche and cheesecake contest, and the World’s Largest Frying Pan


A customer gets a refill during the ChiliFest in Wells in this photo from 2011. Staff photo by Derek Davis


WHEN: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 26

WHERE: 136 Post Road, Wells

HOW MUCH: Free admission

WHY GO: It’s true, we’re not in Texas, but you’ll be surprised by how many Mainers are serious about their chili. The festival doubles as Maine State Chili Cook-Off, sanctioned by the International Chili Society.



WHEN: Noon-5 p.m. July 8

WHERE: Thompson’s Point, Portland


WHY GO: The $100 VIP tickets that buy all-you-can-eat lobster rolls at the World’s Best Lobster Roll competition have already sold out, but you can still purchase “traditional Maine food and drink” (including a lobster roll) from vendors and listen to live music with the general admission ticket.

ONLINE: lobsterroll


WHEN: 2 to 5 p.m. July 1

WHERE: 42 Case Road, Winthrop

HOW MUCH: General admission $5, VIP admission $15 (includes tour, tasting, glass and 8-ounce pour)

WHY GO: Limited edition Summer Berry, made with blueberries and raspberries.



WHEN: June 5-10

WHERE: Various venues

HOW MUCH: Grand tasting (noon to 3 p.m. Saturday) costs $65

WHY GO: The Art of Dining dinners, in which well-known chefs prepare dinners in private homes, are sold out, but you can still sample food and wine at the grand tasting, or go to one of several cocktail parties.



WHEN: Aug. 18-20

WHERE: Many events are held at the Centre Street Congregational Church, 9 Centre St., Machias

HOW MUCH: Some events are free, some are not. Costs vary.

WHY GO: Blueberry farm tours, blueberry cooking contest, all you can eat fish fry, blueberry pie eating contests, and the annual Blackfly Ball. Also, while it’s not exactly “Hamilton,” every year the community puts on a “blueberry musical comedy.”



WHEN: 1 to 5 p.m. July 29

WHERE: Thompson’s Point, Portland

HOW MUCH: $49 general admission, $6 VIP admission, and $20 designated driver

WHY GO: If you love Maine beer and can go to only one craft beer event this year, make it this one, Maine’s biggest brewfest. Ticket includes unlimited beer samples, taster glass, beer school classes and live music. Food trucks will be on site.



WHEN: Workshops on June 11, 18 and 24, and a “Food for Thought Dinner” on June 25

WHERE: Various locations (see website)

HOW MUCH: $85 for the June 11 butchery workshop; $30 for the June 18 cheesemaking workshop; $50 for the June 24 Damariscotta River trip and oyster tasting; and $95 for the June 25 dinner.

WHY GO: Are you the sort of person who makes your own kimchi and lies awake at night worrying whether the grains used in that bread you ate were grown sustainably? This festival is for you – people who are serious about food and want to have hands-on experiences.



WHEN: Aug. 2-6

WHERE: Harbor Park in Rockland

HOW MUCH: Opening Day admission $1 adults, children 11 and under free; admission Aug. 3-6 $8 adults, $2 children age 6-11, children 5 and under free; active military personnel who show ID get in free.

WHY GO: Seafood cooking contest, carnival rides, and lobster, lobster, lobster.

ONLINE: mainelobster


WHEN: July 8-16

WHERE: Fort Fairfield

HOW MUCH: Small entry fees for activities and contests

WHY GO: Mashed potato wrestling (“Mash your opponent in our russet ring and claim the title of Top Tater!”), potato picking contest, tater tot eating contest, and five (count ’em, five!) Miss Maine Potato Queen pageants.



WHEN: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 12

WHERE: Dexter

HOW MUCH: No admission fee

WHY GO: Sure, they look disgusting, but they taste pretty good. Join in the eating contests, then try not to throw up running the inflatable obstacle courses.



WHEN: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 24

WHERE: Various locations in Dover-Foxcroft

HOW MUCH: Admission $5; children 12 and under free

WHY GO: Thousands of whoopie pies for sale, including 25 cent samples.



WHEN: July 7-9

WHERE: Lisbon, Maine

HOW MUCH: No entry fee, but bring cash to enter contests, buy food, drink and Moxie gear such as hats and T-shirts

WHY GO: A chance to mingle with Moxie fans from all over the country. Enter the Chugging Contest or Moxie recipe contest (Moxie Candied Bacon Cheeseball, anyone?), or watch the parade.



WHEN: Aug. 11-13

WHERE: 291 West Main St., Fort Kent

HOW MUCH: No admission fee, but bring money to spend.

WHY GO: This festival, which includes ploye-eating contests, ploye wrestling, and lots of ployes for sale, is held in conjunction with the Fort Kent International Muskie Derby. Canadians across the river in New Brunswick join in with their own activities. The highlight of the festival is the making of the World’s Largest Ploye, which in past years has reached 12 feet in diameter. It requires 15 bags of charcoal to heat the metal pan and takes 50 pounds of ploye mix to make the giant snack.



WHEN: 5-9 p.m. June 22

WHERE: Thompson’s Point, Portland

HOW MUCH: $15 with alcohol; $10 without alcohol; $5 kids

WHY GO: Earn bragging rights as the first in your circle to try some of Maine’s newest food products.



WHEN: Aug. 19-26 (coincides with the Union Fair)

WHERE: Blueberry Acres, Union Fairgrounds, Union

HOW MUCH: Early bird admission $8 (before 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, or before noon weekdays); all-inclusive admission $12 (includes unlimited midway rides, music, contests and shows); family day admission $10 on last Saturday of fair

WHY GO: Your tongue will definitely turn blue if you enter the pie-eating contests and the competitions for best pie baker, best blueberry muffin and best blueberry dessert. And don’t miss the Maine Wild Blueberry Queen pageant.


Blueberry cake on sale at the annual Blueberry Festival in Wilton. Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans


WHEN: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Aug. 4-5

WHERE: Various locations around Wilton

HOW MUCH: Free admission, and lots of free activities, but some events, such as road races, have entry fees

WHY GO: Blueberry Bazaar, blueberry pancake breakfast, Blueberry Bake-Off and Chili Contest



WHEN: Aug. 12. Starts with 6 a.m. blueberry pancake breakfast, ends with 5:30 p.m. parade

WHERE: Various venues in Winter Harbor

HOW MUCH: No admission fee

WHY GO: Lobster dinner, lobster boat races, parade.



WHEN: July 21-23

WHERE: Various venues around Yarmouth

HOW MUCH: Free, but bring money for food, drink and crafts

WHY GO: Clams, lobster rolls, oyster shucking contest and the festival’s famous lime rickeys.


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