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Aimsel Ponti

Aimsel Ponti is a Content Producer at MaineToday.com and a music writer for MaineToday.com and the Portland Press Herald. She has been obsessed with - and inspired by - music since she listened to Monkees records borrowed from the town library when she was six years old. She bought her first Rolling Stones record at a flea market when she was in 7th grade and discovered David Bowie a year later. She's a HUGE fan of the local music scene and covers it along with national musical happenings in her "Face the Music" column and with artist interviews that appear in print in the Portland Press Herald and online at Mainetoday.com. You'll also find her out and about absorbing live music like a sponge and roaming around local record shops and flea markets. Aimsel is also the host of Music from 207 on 98.9 WCLZ and appears monthly on the News Center Maine TV show “207” to talk about...music of course.

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Posted: June 17, 2019

13 can’t-miss summer events

Written by: Aimsel Ponti

After another well-fought winter that hijacked spring for a bit too long, it’s time to wrap our arms around summer in Maine. For a few months every year, the focus is on sandy toes, warm nights and wringing out every last drop of fun before the first frost. The list of fabulous summer events could stretch all the way from Kittery to the Canadian border, so we’re shining a light on a baker’s dozen of our favorites and invite you to have your best summer yet.

Performance from the 2016 Blistered Fingers Family Bluegrass Festival at the Litchfield fairgrounds. Staff photo by Andy Molloy

Blistered Fingers Family Bluegrass Festival
Thursday through Sunday and Aug. 22-25. Litchfield Fairgrounds, 30 Plains Road, $85 in advance, $90 at the gate. Individual day and night passes also available, $20 to $35. blisteredfingers.com
Bluegrass fans know all about the glory of high harmonies, which is why they gather twice a year for the Blistered Fingers Family Bluegrass Festival. Hit one or both weekends, and if you’re into camping, sites are available. A snapshot of this summer’s performers includes The Gibson Brothers, The Baker Family, Dreamcatcher, The Po’ Ramblin Boys and Bluegrass Diamonds.

57th annual Windjammer Days Festival
Sunday through June 29. Boothbay Harbor, boothbaywindjammerdays.org
Christopher Cross was onto something when he sang that the canvas can do miracles. You don’t have to wait too long to see for yourself as the 57th annual Windjammer Days Festival blows into Boothbay Harbor. Events and activities include the Gathering of the Fleet, cod fish relay, live music at Whale Park, lighted boat parade, golf tournament, Pirates of the Dark Rose, street parade and fireworks over the harbor. Schooner or later, you’re going to have to venture to this.

Beers in the Barn
3 to 6 p.m. July 6. Mallett Barn, 625 Wolfe’s Neck Farm, Freeport, $40 includes tasting glass and unlimited pours, $60 includes tasting glass, unlimited pours and one hour early admission for first access to limited special brews and less wait times, $10 for nondrinkers, 21-plus event. wolfesneck.org
Here’s a way to spend an afternoon in a wonderful old barn surrounded by trees and by the ocean. Beers in the Barn features music, local vendors, food from Wolfe Neck’s Farm Café and, of course, a whole bunch of beers from more than 25 local breweries including Bissell Brothers, Sebago Brewing, Orono Briewing and Fore River Brewing Co. There will also be a selection of local wine, kombucha and ciders, along with nonalcoholic drinks.

The annual North Atlantic Blues Festival draws a huge crowd. Photo courtesy of the North Atlantic Blues Festival

North Atlantic Blues Festival
July 13-14. Harbor Park, Rockland, $35, $55 weekend pass. northatlanticbluesfestival.com
The annual North Atlantic Blues Festival is an epic celebration of blues on the water in Rockland. Along with all the music, you’ll find no shortage of food, drinks and local crafts, and there’s a Saturday night Club Crawl that involves several downtown bars and restaurants, along with bands performing right on Main Street. This year’s crop of acts is sensational and includes Ruthie Foster, The Proven Ones, Joe Moss, Sean Chambers, Carolyn Wonderland, Al Copley & Friends, Angela Easley, Keeshea Pratt and Annika Chambers.

72nd annual Maine Potato Blossom Festival
July 13-21. Various locations, Fort Fairfield. On Facebook.
For nine days every July, potatoes get top billing in Fort Fairfield for an annual event that’s been happening since 1937. The Maine Potato Blossom Festival features potato-themed activities all over town, including road races, pageants, live music, parade, arts and crafts fair, fireworks and more. Did we mention the potato wrestling? Yes, indeed, you can watch competitors try their luck in a vat of mashed potatoes, and if you find this idea totally tubular, you can sign up to participate.

Participants compete in the clam shucking contest at the Yarmouth Clam Festival Saturday in 2017. Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

54th annual Yarmouth Clam Festival
July 19-21. Downtown Yarmouth. clamfestival.com
It wouldn’t be a summer in Maine without the Yarmouth Clam Festival. From the parade to the road race, entertainment and all those clams, this is a quintessential summer gathering. This year has a very Brady twist to it as Barry Williams aka Greg Brady will be in the Friday night parade and will be signing autographs on Saturday. This year marks the 50th anniversary of “The Brady Bunch.” Mom may have said, “Don’t play ball in the house,” but she didn’t say anything about not having fun at the clam fest!

2019 Summer Session Craft Beer Festival
Noon to 3 p.m. and 5-8 p.m. July 27. Fort Preble, Bunker Lane, South Portland, $20 to $65, 21-plus. eventbrite.com
Choose the afternoon or sunset session and get ready to hit the Maine Brewer’s Guild 2019 Summer Session Craft Beer Festival. The festival is making its debut at its new home at Fort Preble in South Portland, where you’ll be, as the Maine Brewer’s Guild puts it, “basically inside a postcard” surrounded by ocean, island and beaches at an old fort next to a lighthouse. You’ll also enjoy pours from more than 100 Maine breweries. As an added bonus, parking is free.

Maine Lobster Festival is a massive crustacean celebration in Rockland. Darryl Brooks/Shutterstock.com

Maine Lobster Festival
July 31 to Aug. 4. Harbor Park, Rockland. mainelobsterfestival.com
Considering this festival happens in Rockland, it’s entirely OK to sing “Rock Lobster” on the way to the annual Maine Lobster Festival. The shining star of the five-day celebration is, of course, thousands of pounds of lobster, but there’s also the Sea Goddess Pageant & Coronation, parade, live music, international lobster crate race, arts and craft show, cooking contests, Steins & Vines tasting event, vendors and marine tent. Get cracking and make your plans to hit at least one day of this extravaganza because you’ll have a shell of a good time. Not a lobster fan? Not to worry, the festival will also have plenty of fried clams, shrimp, mussels and wide range of standard summer fair food, along with an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast.

165th annual Topsham Fair
Aug. 6-11. Topsham Fairgrounds. topshamfair.net
It’s not a typo, it really is the 165th year for the Topsham Fair. This fair is a one-stop shopping destination when it comes to having the ultimate, classic Maine fair experience. The glorious list includes all the key elements of an epic fair: carnival rides, livestock, demolition derby, live entertainment, tractor pulling, harness racing, horse and oxen pulling, Highland games and, of course, everyone’s favorite four-letter word when it comes to fairs: food!

7th annual Paddle Battle River Race
11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Aug. 11. The Nonantum Resort, 95 Ocean Ave., Kennebunkport, $30 individual, $70 tandem. nonantumresort.com
Sports Illustrated Kids’ Magazine rated the Paddle Battle River Race as one of the top events for summer fun and with good reason. It’s a 1.7-mile course on the Kennebunk River open to kayaks, canoes, standup paddleboards, surfboards and any other nonmotorized vessels. Registration begins at 10 a.m. and the race starts at 12:30 p.m. When the race ends, the fun continues with a crazy costume and crazy craft competition, live music and family activities on the lawn at Nonantum Resort, and the Latitudes poolside bar and grill will be open.

Scene from the 2016 Great Falls Balloon Festival.
Sun Journal staff photo by Russ Dillingham

Great Falls Balloon Festival
Aug. 16-18. Simard-Payne Memorial Park, Lewiston. On Facebook.
Now in its 27th year, the Great Falls Balloon Festival will have your head in the clouds over the course of three days in Lewiston on the banks of the Androscoggin River. Balloon rides can be reserved by emailing rides@greatfallsballonfestival.org. There’s also a lot happening back down on earth, including several food vendors, craft vendors, carnival rides and a parade on Saturday. You’ll also find two stages of entertainment, and the Society for Creative Anachronism Medieval Encampment will be set up in nearby Bonney Park.

American Folk Festival
Aug. 23-25. Bangor waterfront. americanfolkfestival.com
The American Folk Festival is a three-day celebration of multicultural arts. The main attraction is music, but this festival also features dance, handmade crafts from regional artists and a combination of regional, ethnic and fair food to satisfy every taste. This year’s lineup includes Cimarron, The Campbell Brothers, Los Straitjackets, The Fitzgeralds and Les Tireux D’Roches.

Deliciousness from the 2018 Taste of Local Flavor at Boothbay Harbor Festival.
Photo by Tan Pham Photography

Boothbay Harborfest
Aug. 30 to Sept. 1. Various locations, Boothbay Harbor, $15 in advance, $20 after Aug. 1. boothbayharborfest.com
Boothbay Harborfest is a delicious way to spend your Labor Day weekend because the main event is A Taste of Local Flavor. Your “passport” includes sumptuous food tastings and live music at several local restaurants. There’s also a weekend-long Cold River Cocktail competition and an overall happy vibe all around town. Speaking of vibes, head back to Boothbay Harbor the following weekend for the East Side Vibe Vintage, Arts & Music Festival, which is two days of live music and entertainment along with a fantastic array of creative vendors with locally made items and vintage treasures. You can also hit the Fishin’ for Fashion show that features designs using only marine industry materials.