GARDINER — Gardiner Main Street was filled with plenty of Swine & Stein action Saturday morning to make up for last year’s scaled-back festivities.

Swine & Stein Brewfest is an annual event organized by Gardiner Main Street.

Usually the “swine” part of the event includes a pig butchering demonstration, but due to staffing issues, it was not included this year. To make up for it, The Blind Pig Tavern had a pork roast and local vendors also featured pork as their main options. According to the meat smokers at The Blind Pig, the pig started smoking on the grill at 3:30 a.m. and by lunch time, it was ready to be served, making the lack of the demonstration seem minimal.

The “stein” part of the name was backed up by 16 brews on tap and two cideries and two distilleries pouring beverages.

The one-day event was back in-person for the first year since 2019. Last year, due to the pandemic and emergency restrictions on gatherings, organizers offered take-home bags instead of having the popular in-person event.

The event dates to 2009, where Gardiner Main Street organizer Melissa Lindley said all of the brews were under one tent, poured by volunteers.  In 2019, it turned into an official brewfest where the breweries sent their own pourers as a way to not only get the “full experience” but to educate interested people on their particular brews.

Lynn Chadwick and her wife, Stacy Chadwick, of Chadwick’s Craft Spiritswere pouring hot and cold ciders with their spicy cinnamon liquor, “Reaper’s Revenge.” They offered an alternative to the brews, pouring liquors and drinks from their family’s Pittston distillery.

Lynn Chadwick said she was happy, as a distillery, to be part of the brewery-based event and said events like Swine & Stein can lead to networking opportunities for the businesses, such as swapping or sharing barrels.

“It’s a fantastic event for the town of Gardiner,” she said.

Lindley said the event sold more tickets than ever before and sold “three times as many” online before the event started.

“Traditionally 75% of the ticket sales are day of, but I think people are excited to get out,” said Lindley.

Sarah Boutot said she has gone to the event in the past, but that it was her “first time back in a while.”

“I’m just happy to be here,” she said about attending.

As of Saturday morning, the VIP passes were sold out and Lindley estimated around 1,200 would attend as people were still able to buy tickets. The VIP pass allowed early entry at noon, rather than 1 p.m. for general admission. Both tickets got the attendee unlimited samples throughout the day.

Lindley said COVID-19 is “always a concern,” but organizers felt confident since the event is for ages 21 and older, that people would be respectful of coronavirus guidelines. She said Maine’s COVID-19 vaccine population is “encouraging” and organizers have set up sanitizing stations and encourage masks for those who want to wear them.

Cindy Shiveley and Jay Kusinerz attended the event all the way from Southwick, Massachusetts.

We like to try the local breweries and the small-town atmosphere the event brings,” Shiveley said.

The pair said they have come to the event for the past “four or five” years and started to come because they heard of the pig roast. Kusinerz said his family typically vacations in Old Orchard Beach and around the time they heard of Swine & Stein, he started smoking his own meat.

Claire Marron owns Monkitree on Main Street and helped grab organizers for the beard competition. Though Kusinerz was familiar with the beard competition, he didn’t think his beard was “good enough” to enter. By noon, Marron had rounded up six participants.

There were other events to sign up for, like the frozen T-shirt and rock, paper, scissors competitions, in addition to a giant Jenga and lawn game area.

A dollar from each ticket sale went to the Johnson Hall restoration fund, with a match from Gardiner Creativity Fun. Johnson Hall offered an art show on the first floor and tours led by Carrie Arsenault.

Lindley said overall, she is happy to see the event draw so many people to Gardiner.

“It’s always exciting and energizing and a different way to see the downtown when you’re not just driving through it,” she said. “You can stop to see the architecture, colorful trees and everything the downtown has.”

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: