SIDNEY — A new craft brew and music festival — Snow Pond On Tap! — is planned for this summer on Messalonskee Lake in Sidney.

The gathering is being planned by the Snow Pond Center for the Arts.

With the state easing its COVID-19 health and safety protocols and more people getting fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, outdoor venues, such as the Snow Pond Center, are planning — or reviving — food-and-drink festivals that could not happen if mask mandates were in place.

“We’ve certainly missed that interaction. That’s what we do best,” said Christa Johnson, director of development at the Snow Pond Center for the Arts. “Being able to come back and do it safely, outside, allows people to come together in a fun and safe way.”

The Bowl in the Pines Amphitheater during a previous season at Snow Pond Center for the Arts in Sidney. Photo courtesy of Snow Pond Center for the Arts

Meanwhile, Maine’s capacity limits for indoor and outdoor gatherings will be lifted Monday, so events, including the new beer festival, can happen.

Scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 11, at the Snow Pond Center’s recently renovated Bowl in the Pines Ampitheater, the beer festival is expected to feature more than 25 brewers from Maine and Vermont, and musical acts, including The Mallett Brothers Band, Muddy Ruckus and Adam Ezra.

Johnson said the beer festival had been planned for last summer, but was canceled due to the pandemic.

“We moved it to September with a bit of a hope and a prayer,” she said. “The news about the reopening was nothing but thrilling. To come out of this in a celebratory way is definitely exciting.”

The Taste of Waterville is also returning this summer after being absent last year due to the pandemic. Scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 4, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., this year’s Taste is intended only for those 21 or older, a break with the past.

Planned this year for Head of Falls along the Kennebec River, instead of Main Street, the theme seeks to explore Waterville’s cultural diversity through food and beer-and-wine gardens, informative walks, live entertainment and ethnic demonstrations, according to organizers.

Main Street is filled with diners in August 2018 during the annual Taste of Waterville on Main Street in downtown Waterville. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel file

More details are to come as culinary vendors and cultural exhibitions sign up for the Taste of Waterville, hosted by the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce.

“The biggest thing to be able to open it up were certainly the CDC and state guidelines changing,” said Shawn Michaud, chairperson of the Taste of Waterville committee. “We’ve been working for the last few months with the thought that the state would open back up, but we were also making contingency plans to push it back later in the year.”

The Maine Grain Alliance is splitting its marquee summer events in Skowhegan, one in person and one virtual. The 11th annual Maine Artisan Bread Fair at the Skowhegan Fairgrounds is scheduled for Saturday, July 31, as an in-person event. The annual Kneading Conference is planned for July 26-30 as a virtual event over Zoom.

“The artisan bread fair will adhere to all of the health guidelines that you’d expect, but the Skowhegan Fairgrounds is a large space, ” said Tristan Noyes, executive director of the Maine Grain Alliance. “There’s just so much room, so we think we can hold it comfortable in person.”

The Kneading Conference, however, is being held virtually for a variety of reasons, according to organizers. Presenters are from across the United States and other countries. Some from Lebanon, Sweden and Montreal will give virtual lessons. Also, hands-on baking workshops are not consistent with physical-distancing recommendations.

“In the time that we had to put our plan together and approach everyone that was a part of our event, we had to make a decision,” Noyes said. “We’ve left open the opportunity for a small number of hybrid events, which seem more likely to happen given the recent changes.”

Kristina Cannon, executive director of Main Street Skowhegan, wrote in an email the organization was unsure it will host the Skowhegan Craft Brew Festival this year. If the event happens, it would be Saturday, Sept. 4, according to Cannon. In the meantime, organizers are offering craft brew bags.

Organizers of the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity have announced the popular event will make a full return this yer after being held virtually last year. The fair is scheduled for Sept. 24-26 at the Common Ground Country Fairgrounds in Unity. In their announcement, organizers said protective masks would be mandatory at all times during the fair.

Fairgoers fill walkways in September 2019 at the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file

Katy Green, communications and outreach director for the Maine Organic Farmers and Growers Association, wrote in an email that organizers were evaluating changes to public health guidelines.

“We’re looking into the Governor’s announcement to understand the impact it could have on the fair,” Green wrote. “We’ll make appropriate updates to our website as the guidance continues to evolve over the coming months.”

The Maine Whoopie Pie Festival in Dover-Foxcroft is also planned for Tuesday, June 22, and the Pittsfield Egg Festival for July 8-13.

The Snow Pond Center for the Arts is also hosting free concerts every Saturday and Sunday in July until the middle of August, put on by the New England Music Camp.

There are other free concerts offered by the Maine Chamber Music Seminar, Frederick L. Hempke Saxophone Institute and others at the center’s amphitheater in Sidney, and a free boat and patio party the week before the beer festival — with The School Street Band performing — to thank the community for its support.

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