The third annual OakFest celebration , beginning on Friday, is shaping up to be the largest ever, according to event organizers.

With an Open Air Market stocked with vendors and a new event added to the multi-day affair, OakFest Committee chairwoman Kathy Paradis is hoping to beat last year’s attendees.

Last year, about 15,000 people attended at least one of the events in Oakland over the weekend and the committee ended up in the black, she said.

“None of this is taxpayers’ money,” Paradis said. Sponsorships, donations and vendor fees help keep the annual event sustainable.

The goal of OakFest is also to spread the word of what the town has to offer.

“We’re hoping that people realize we are a small town community, and it’s a place where you want to live, work and bring up your family,” Paradis said.

OakFest isn’t the first annual celebration Oakland has held. In the past, there was Oakland Fiesta, but Paradis said she doesn’t know why the event stopped.

Residents came together to form the OakFest Committee, made up of 12 people this year, to bring the weekend full of events back to the town.

“It’s been three years since its inception and it’s still going strong,” Paradis said.

The event starts Friday, July 21, with the Oakland Lions Club parade at 6 p.m. Main Street will be closing at 4 p.m.

The parade’s theme is “a day at the lake,” Paradis said, and the committee has decided to implement judging this year. Ribbons and other prizes will be handed out at the street dance, which will be held from 7 to 10 p.m. following the parade, where there will also be vendors selling food and drinks, including doughboys.

Saturday starts with a pancake breakfast at the Oakland United Baptist Church before the Open Air Market begins at 9 a.m. at Williams Elementary School. There will be a bus shuttle from the Messalonskee High School parking lot as well. Live music starts at the market at 11 a.m.

The market has now reached its limit of about 70 vendors, excluding food, Paradis said, surpassing last year’s total of 65. There will be a special section for children with face painting, a petting zoo, pony rides and more.

Oakland’s Got Talent, a new event this year, is scheduled for Saturday afternoon from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the boat landing on Old Belgrade Avenue. The Downtown Business Association organized the event, which is open to anyone who lives or works in the town.

Throughout the month, the Friends of Messalonskee Watershed have been holding a fishing derby. It ends July 20, and the winners will be announced on July 22 at OakFest.

The Paddle, Pedal and Pound the Pavement Triathlon rounds out the weekend on Sunday at 8 a.m., also at the boat landing. Participants will canoe or kayak 2.5 miles around Messalonskee Lake from the boat landing, then hop on a bike for a 12-mile loop. The final stretch is a 3.1-mile run from the boat landing through the town and back.

Raye Higgins, the media contact for the committee, said they hope OakFest “brings a lot of people into town who have never been here.”

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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