Summer is in full swing in historic Gardiner, offering an enticing mix of events and activities for thousands of visitors as well as local year-round and seasonal residents.

On June 8, for example, Pat Colwell and the Soul Sensations will bring down the house at Johnson Hall Performing Arts Center with their powerful mix of Motown and Memphis soul classics as well as their own originals. Take a lively trip through Rhythm and Blues history with this band, complete with back-up singers and a full horn section. Tonight’s performance is just one example of the first-rate talent showcased by Johnson Hall in a diverse line- up. Visit johnsonhall.org for complete details and tickets.

Can’t get enough of Maine’s short summer? On Friday, June 16, Johnson Hall kicks off its 2019 waterfront concert series under the evening sky, with musical performances and fireworks against the scenic backdrop of the Kennebec River. Visit their website for the season’s performance listing.

Lexi James performs in Johnson Hall Summer Waterfront Concert Series on July 1, 2016, in Gardiner’s Waterfront Park. Kennebec Journal file photo by Joe Phelan

Saturday, June 22, marks the return of the Greater Gardiner River Festival – an annual free, fun community event in or near the river, at Waterfront Park and downtown. Make a day of it: come early (starting at 9 a.m.) for the big book sale at the Gardiner Public Library. From 10 a.m.-4 p.m. enjoy the live music and entertainment on two stages, a host of “field day” activities, boat rides, kayak and paddleboard demos, games and giveaways. Also, Water Street is transformed into a pedestrian mall for the big craft fair and specialty food vendors. And Saturday evening, capping off the festival, are the Gardiner Federal Credit Union Fireworks.

Artwalk Gardiner only happens three times a year: mark your calendar now for Aug. 16, or you will have to wait until November. Besides, this enchanted evening of art, artists and community, now in its 15th year, is never the same event twice! Each ArtWalk showcases original fine art and crafts created by Gardiner area artists. Featuring unique works ranging from paintings, drawings, fine art prints and photography to textiles, sculpture, jewelry, ceramics and more.

Those attending Artwalk Gardiner can chat with makers and view and purchase their work in their open art studios as well as in galleries, shops and other business venues along historic downtown Water Street. For more information, visit ArtWalk Gardiner on Facebook.

People look at paintings in the former restaurant space at 259 Water St. during an ArtWalk on May 6, 2016, in downtown Gardiner. Kennebec Journal file photo by Joe Phelan

On the other hand, some Gardiner events continue all summer long, with a new opportunity to learn, engage, and/or participate just about every day of the week.

SpinOff Studio, a nonprofit art center at 252 Water St., thoughtfully presents Mindful Mondays: drop in on your own, or bring the whole family, on Monday evenings from 5 to 8 p.m. to start your week with movement and dance, stretching and breathing exercises, positive affirmations, mindfulness and relaxation. Healthy snacks (and recipes to share) are included. All are welcome. Suggested donation is $5; free for kids 10 and under. Learn more about SpinOff events, which have ranged from Family Art Night to Poetry and Pancakes, by checking the events listings on their Facebook page.

Tuesday is Open Mic Night at Niche, Inc. All musicians, including beginners, are warmly welcomed to come down to listen or play in a friendly open atmosphere at 307 Water St.

On Wednesday evenings, from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. learn the basic principles of Tibetan Buddhist meditation and philosophy at Zardus Art of Massage and Wellness Spa at 1 Lincoln Ave. across from the Gardiner Common, where you can “discover how to end suffering and achieve happiness through understanding the inner workings of your mind.” There is a suggested donation of $8 per session. Pre-registration is required: call (207) 446-7470.

Every Thursday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Waterfront Park is the place to be for those who own a classic car – and those who wish they did. Join the appreciative crowds admiring the classic vehicles on display; chat with the owners and reminisce with fellow aficionados. You’ll also enjoy the music of times gone by at the weekly Summer Cruise Ins.

Anytime, the Gardiner Public Library at 152 Water St. (across from Reny’s) is a great place to be for kids, their parents and caregivers. But at 10 a.m. Fridays, the Library offers songs, bubbles and other activities especially selected and geared for babies and young toddlers. Older toddlers and preschoolers look forward to storytime, songs and crafts on Tuesdays at 10 a.m. For more information on the library’s numerous programs, events and resources for all ages, call 207 582-3312, visit gpl.lib.me.us or find the Gardiner Public Library on Facebook.

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