The city of Gardiner is named after Dr. Sylvester Gardiner, a Boston physician who did much to develop the area. Though like many small towns, it declined economically over the decades, in recent years, efforts have been ongoing to revitalize the city while at the same time preserving the historic character.

Gardiner Main Street
This program was established for that purpose. Concerted efforts have been made to attract newcomers to the area and a number of new businesses have opened during the last several years. Meanwhile, older and well- established businesses such as Reny’s Department Store and the A-1 Diner continue to thrive, bringing in a steady stream of people and stability to the region.

Gardiner is home to the Greater Gardiner River Festival which attracts thousands of people. This year’s Greater Gardiner River Festival (June 23, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.) will again kick off the annual Whatever Family Festival in the Kennebec Valley. Activities planned include an open-air craft fair on historic Water Street, active outdoor “field day” events for all ages, a talent show, games and giveaways, specialty food vendors, a chainsaw sculpting demonstration, a blacksmith demonstration, live music and entertainment all day, and fireworks at dusk.

The Great Race
In conjunction with the Whatever Family Festival, the city of Gardiner will host a stop on the 2018 Hemmings Motor News Great Race on June 26th, 3-10 p.m.

The Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce reports that the Great Race, the world’s premiere classic car rally, will bring more than 100 antique automobiles to Historic Downtown Gardiner and the Waterfront Park. The Chamber’s marketing director, Caroline Saban, said that food trucks will be on hand in Gardiner to feed the crowd and Johnson Hall will put on an early evening show under a tent at the Waterfront Park.

“The race will start June 23 in Buffalo, New York, and weave its way a total of 2,100 miles over nine days taking drivers on a course that starts in Buffalo and continues across upstate New York and through Vermont to Burlington,” said Saban. “From there, the course goes east to Mount Washington, and from there across Maine to Gardiner.

“Contestants then will leave from Augusta and head up to Bangor, and then on to Bar Harbor. The final legs of the trip will take drivers across the Canadian border into Saint John and Moncton, New Brunswick, and then over to Nova Scotia, with stops in Truro and Dartmouth, before the rally concludes in Halifax,” she said.

Classic Car Cruise
In addition to the Festival, Gardiner will be the site for a variety of other activities this summer.

Thursday evenings between May and September, antique car buffs will enjoy a Classic Car Cruise 5-7 p.m. at the Gardiner Waterfront Park.  Owners of classic antique cars will display their vehicles while music and entertainment is provided by a DJ, vendors will be available for food.

Waterfront Concert Series
Every other Friday evening at 6:30 p.m., Johnson Hall will offer a free Waterfront Concert at Gardiner’s Waterfront along the scenic Kennebec River.  There will be a kickoff concert on Friday, June 22 during the Kennebec Valley’s Whatever Family Festival. For more information visit johnsonhall.org.

Gardiner Public Library
Gardiner Public Library, 152 Water Street, hosts a Summer Reading Program from June 25 to August 13. Participants may pick up their chart and Sea Dogs Baseball Game voucher on June 18. Prizes will be awarded beginning on August 1. For questions, call 582-6894.

Lindsay and Her Puppet Pals will share stories at the Gardiner Public Library on Tuesday, August 7 at 10 a.m. Lindsay brings her larger than life Puppet Pals to child and family audiences across New England throughout the year. The presentation is ideal for ages 3-8.

The library will also offer a story and craft time for young children and their caregivers each Tuesday morning at 10:30 a.m.  They will also offer a Babies Love Babies Play Group for children up to age three on Friday mornings 10-11 a.m.

Artwalk Gardiner
The annual summer Artwalk Gardiner will be held on Friday, August 4 inside downtown businesses on Water Street 5:30-8:30 p.m.. Artwalk Gardiner began in 2005 as a collaboration of Artdogs Studios and a group of local artists. This event is also held in May and December. Artists who don’t have their own studio or gallery space in the downtown area are paired with local businesses for the evening. Art displayed in the past has included paintings, drawings, fine art prints, photography, sculpture, jewelry, woodworks, and ceramics.

According to artwalkmaine.org/gardiner/ the purpose of Artwalk Gardiner is “to increase community awareness and appreciation of the visual arts, encourage familiarity between local artists and the general public, and foster the creative economy in the downtown of Gardiner.” For more information, contact Artdogs Studios at 712-9734.

Barks in the Park
Barks in the Park will be held at Gardiner Waterfront Park on Sat., Sept. 9, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Pets and owners will celebrate with special demonstrations and other events.

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